Sunday, March 27, 2022

"Oregon Coast Sunset" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12")


"Oregon Coast Sunset"

The following is the description of what we did in the nineth week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

The spring registration has begun. Please come back in the next term to continue your watercolor journey with me. You guys, so many of whom are beginners, are doing an amazing job! Here is the link for the "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class; here is the link for the "Watercolor Portraits" class, in case you want to move up a notch and challenge yourself even further!

The image you see above is the class demo of "Oregon Coast Sunset" from yesterday. The theme was "Inspired by Tonalism". Tonalism was an American art movement from the late 19th century. Its most prominent practitioners were George Inness and James Whistler (his nocturnes). They used a narrow value range in low chroma colors to create their serene, romantic landscapes.

Admittedly I am not a tonalist; I am more of an impressionist. It doesn't prevent me from exploring this intriguing movement; perhaps there are things for us to glean from their approach to painting landscapes and cityscapes.

We first wetted the paper and brushed in very pale winsor lemon and permanent rose while not touching the blue/white bands along the horiozon. In the next wet-on-wet layer, we did the same thing, this time, with cobalt blue where you see blues. We decided to deepen the colors slightly by doing the third wet-on-wet layer, repeating the same color patterns.

Then we painted the headland on dry paper with the dark mixture of French ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, pushing it more brown and slightly lighter along the horizon to suggest sea fog. While the wash was drying, we continued to establish the rugged terrain of the headland with diagonal strokes. Try not to lose the initial mid-dark wash. Remember this is a tonalist painting! Don't turn the whole headland shape into a black mess; think 3 and 4 in the value scale, not 1 (black) or 2 (near black).

When the headland was dry, I decided to experiment by laying down a horizontal stroke of white gouache over the horizon and headland to suggest sea fog shrouding the view. I put down the white and quickly softened the top and bottom edges of the long stroke. Some headland serrated edges got smeared, but I like the result. This is an optional step; don't do it if you are unsure of your ability. You can easily ruin the painting that is going well so far.

Let's finish the painting by adding a series of horizontal strokes to suggest the incoming waves. The colors are the same as the headland mixture, except lighter. Sometimes we used it bluer; sometimes added a little alizarin crimson. Some lines are darker. There are two bands of blues; the second band is where the dark reflection of the headland begins. The bottom third of the painting has the big reflections.

The colors are the same as the headland's, except it's bluer than the headland color. Remember that if you don't overmix two colors, you can push it either way depending on your need. Let it me one of the biggest gains from my class.

Make sure the reflections are not too dark (you destroy the serene mood) or too light (you lose the impact). The edges should be uneven and a not solid, straight vertical line. Make curvy strokes toward the bird.

The bird may be tiny, but it's very important in the design. If it had not been there in the reference, I would have invented it to balance the massive mirror-image shapes of the headland and reflections on the right side. It's a some kind of a coastal bird (sandpiper?). Don't forget to paint the shadow. The color is the same as the reflections and headland.
 That's it! Once again, I want to thank you for your awesomeness! Here is the past nine weeks in a nutshell. Most of you have come a long way, blossoming from absolute beginners to intermediate watercolorists. I am proud of all of you for your progress!
"Waikiki Sunrise"

"Zippy Zebra"

"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl"

"Red Amaryllis"
Winter Shadows"

"Crocuses in Snow"

"Snowman and Red Barn"

"Starry Sky"

Friday, March 25, 2022

"Self-portrait in Suede Jacket" (watercolor on paper; 10" x 8")


"Self-portrait in Suede Jacket"


The following is what we did in the ninth week of the winter term, 2022 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class (my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA). 

I talked a great deal about various things, including my favorite watercolor portrait painter, Mary Whyte. Her book, "Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor", should be on every watercolor portrait artist's bookshelf. Her greatest strengths, I believe, are her ability to control hard/soft edges and her incredible sense of design. Her handling of details is also breath-taking. Don't just say she has talent. No, it's the prodigious amount of work she has put into her art that got her to her level today!

This week we are working on a self-portrait. I have chosen a rather challenging project of painting various different textures (felt, suede and straight hair), a complicated geometric pattern, and a pair of glasses, which I wear all the time. You don't have to naturally and do whatever you can.

Many past masters have painted themselves. Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh come to mind as they painted themselves repeatedly, for the lack of money to hire models but, of course, for self-observation and contemplation of their lives. If you have never done it before, you may feel awkward. I myself used to dislike the whole self-portrait business, but as part of this class assignments, I have done it a few times and I am finally getting over my reluctance and actually beginning to enjoy it. One tends to have self-delusions and it's good to be honest with oneself once in a while.

The painting process is the same whether you are painting yourself or someone else. I always start with the "background" in wet-on-wet variegated wash. The goal is to create an ambience for the subject to sit comfortably and breathe the air. If your "background" is a dull gray or not in harmony with the rest of the portrait, you kind of lost the game even before you start painting the subject. Let's work on this issue further in the spring.

I painted the felt hat and suede jacket using mainly granulating paints such as Piemontite genuine, Moonglow, and ultrarine violet to emulate the soft texture.

Painting the complicated pattern, such as my rain jacket, takes patience, but if you do it well, you can create lovely folds and gain the viewer's admiration. Remember that white in shadow is not white!

My hair is, of course, very different from any of yours. I have straight hair and it's probably easier than painting, let's say, curly hair? Either way, the goal is softness and preserving highlights and going dark enough in the dark shapes. I showed you how using the right (warm) temperature in the mid-tones made the hair look real. Again, I like to use granulating paints for hair. You can use whatever colors.

The skin tones are always the hardest thing in a portrait. You ruin the skin tones, you ruin the portrait, no matter how well you have painted the rest. There is no secret. The goal is likeness and even if you have traced the image, you may have traced inaccurately or lost the drawing of features in the process of painting. Then redraw. There are no excuses for the misplaced mouth or missing nostril.

Map out your highlights/mid-tones/darks accurately. I almost always start out with the highlights, giving them a very pale wash of cobalt turquoise light (Winsor Newton). Human skin tones, except the dead, are warm. This initial, barely visible cobalt turquoise layer and blues and violets you will introduce later will counterbalance the relentless ruddiness of the skin tones.

Yes, I use blue (cobalt blue) and violet (ultramarine violet) in the face. The reds vary depending on the subject. For the self-portrait, I used cadmium red and Sennelier helios purple (there is no substitute for this color; I really don't know why you are so reluctant to include this lovely, indispensable color on your palette). For the dark reds, I used madder brown, perylene maroon, perylene violet, and Piemontite genuine (in shadows).

The glasses went in last. One has to be utterly careful in handling the glasses. The portrait is about many things, but never about the glasses. It's there, but it's mostly suggested.

By the way, I don't necessarily tell you what colors to use in your independent projects as we have to learn to see the colors and come up with the right paints to render them through trial and error.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

"Waikiki Sunrise" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12")


"Waikiki Beach"


The following is the description of what we did in the eighth week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

So what is this project about? It's about a controlled variegated wash, with which some of you are having trouble. It's also about the value control, by which many of you are haunted (this is the most important and hardest thing to master in any painting medium, so take heart). It is also about preserving lights while adding tones and texture (in the water).

It's dawn on Waikiki Beach. The sun is rising just behind Diamond Head in Oahu. There is a hint of a blue sky. Overall, the entire scene is permeated with glorious light. You destroy light in the water, you lose the painting. We masked the half sun disk and some horizontal strokes in the water to preserve the pure light, which is the white of the paper.

We wetted the entire upper half of the painting and stroked around the sun disk with winsor lemon, pale cadmium red and spread the lemon and cad red along the horizon and up. We dried the paper, wetted it again and this time brushed in cobalt blue from the top and pulled it down.

We dried the paper, wetted it again and strengthened the blue wash (the sky has to be blue enough), stroked in very pale permanent rose above cad red arch (which created a slight purple "color bridge" to connect red to blue). I also went over the yellow sky above the horizon in the distance with the blue (which created a slightly turquoise tone). Everything is done subtly. You go overboard any of the strokes/tones/hues, you ruin the sky.

The sky is almost half of the painting; so, when the sky is ruined, it's game over. It's the same with the water, which is the hardest thing to paint in this project. In a painting, everything has to work; every square inch of the painting has to contribute to the end game, which is beauty (not perfection). An imperfect painting can be beautiful.

We need the pale golden glow in the highlights of the water, so we wetted the bottom half of the paper and brushed in pale winsor lemon. We dried the paper. Now it's time to paint the blues of the water (reflection of the blue sky; some are quite dark, such as the reflections of the tall building on the left and some wavelets).

We wetted the paper again and started dropping all three blues: ultramarine blue along the distant horizon and along the left edge with the dark reflections and bottom right; winsor blue for much of the water; and some cobalt blue here and there. Winsor blue may be the "typical" ocean water color, but if you overdo it, it becomes acidic, unbearably cold blue, and that why I infused warmer ultramarine blue and cobalt blue to tone it down. Shadows are the mixture of ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson or the darker mixture of winsor blue and crimson.

Make sure you don't lose the pale lemon highlights. Your strokes are not random; They should have a distinct shape of a flat triangular peaks. Don't make them round. Study the reference carefully. In every project, study your still life, reference photo, or your view (if painting in plein air). All the answers are there. If you screw up, it's either your observation was not careful enough or your painting handling needs practice.

I kept making these strokes until I ran out of time. You will finish them on your own. I removed the masking fluid and made some horizontal orange strokes on the vertical "column" of brilliant highlight in the water. I also added some dots of white gouache to suggest the sparkles in the water. Use it thickly (but not straight out of the tube). Then I glazed over them with very pale lemon. This is the technique the great masters like Vermeer used extensively to make things glow in their oil paintings.
Finally, we painted the sliver of the land shape at one go, starting right below the sun disk with cad red and a little cad yellow pale. White the glowing red wash was still wet, I dropped the dark mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna to paint Diamond Head and tiny buildings on the far horizon. To the left of the sun disk, the tops of the buildings have more burnt sienna (this "redness" is all caused by the burning glow of the rising sun); on the other hand, along the horizon (remember the horizon curves slightly toward the left edge because of trees and such), I dropped more ultramarine blue to make it darker.


"Waikiki Beach Reference"

Friday, March 18, 2022

"Raven" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9")




The following is what we did in the eighth weeks of the winter term, 2022 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class (my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA). 

Lots of things were on my mind (in addition to being dead tired), so I may have talked too lengthily. My apologies. All the things I covered, I stand by them. I talked about the importance of accurate measuring and showed you my work-in-progress (a 40" x 40" oil commission painting of the National Cathedral from the north side) to prove that, if you know how to measure with the aid of a proportional divider, you can draw anything.

If your drawing of the subject is wobbly, no matter how hard you work on the project, it will never turn out satisfactory. I once worked on a watercolor portrait commission, which required five drawings and three paintings to satisfy the client and her three teen-age/college age daughters. Why? Watercolor is a relatively unforgiving medium and you can't really correct once you start painting. Please trace if you know your drawing is weak. There is absolutely no dishonor or shame in that! Arches paper is not where you practice drawing; you do that in sketchbooks, if possible, daily.

I also talked about the importance of the variegated background wash that goes down first to set the tone. Wrong color choices and poor executions often lead to poor paintings.

I introduced you to my contemporary watercolor hero, Shirley Trevena and her book, "Artist's Studio: Vibrant Watercolours". (My dead watercolor hero would be John Singer Sargent, LOL.) Her style is not everybody's cup of tea, but her colors and design sense are absolutely divine. My palette is a modified version of hers. She doesn't do portraits per se, but one must get inspirations from all manners of artists, past and present, if you are really serious about your art.

For the hair of "Raven", I used almost exclusively Moonglow and Piemontite genuine (both by Daniel Smith). They both granulate and are effective in achieving that soft Afro look without much ado. Your black subject will, of course, have different colors and require different paints. Always paint the overall lightest color first (in my case, the mixture of French ultramarine blue and burnt sienna), then start carving out dark shapes.

For the skin tones, I started out by toning the highlight shapes (including the whites of the eyes and teeth) with a very pale cobalt turquoise light (Winsor Newton). Then I pondered about the general color palette of the young woman and decided she has a lot of orange and mahogany (reddish brown). I hardly used any burnt sienna.

I do feel strongly about, when painting black subjects, avoiding the earth colors which tend to mud up everything they touch. The only exception may be mixing, let say, an earth color like burnt umber with a transparent color such as Winsor violet, but what does that dark mixture have to do with the human skin tones?

So went in cadmium orange (yes, I have it; I also have cadmium red orange; it beats having to mix them all the time!), cadmium red, and my favorite cool red, Sennelier Helios purple. For darks, I used perylene maroon, perylene violet and ultramarine violet (my favorite is by Schmincke, but it's very expensive!).

The rest is always the same. Make the dental arch and eyes appear rounded by darkening the corners. Don't stain the teeth yellow even if they appear so in the reference; you may have to model each tooth carefully (observation is the key as anywhere else).

The brows are not caterpillars; they have volume and they should arch at the right places. They are not of the same tone or hue as they travel, hugging along the brow ridge.

Be careful with the the nasolabial fold shapes. If you want to ruin the expression of a portrait, this is where you concentrate first, LOL!

Darks should be dark enough. The black skin tones are generally dark in the first place, so you will need more layering to achieve the rich luminousity.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

"Zippy Zebra" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12")


"Zippy Zebra"


The following is the description of what we did in the seventh week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

At the beginning of the class, I shared my sample paintings for the spring workshop ("Painting Sunsets in Watercolor") and for the summer workshop ("Painting Beach Figures in Watercolor). Please join me on April 2 and 3 for the sunset workshop, which is filling up fast!

The spring registration has begun. Please come back in the next term to continue your watercolor journey with me. You guys, so many of whom are beginners, are doing an amazing job! Here is the link for the "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class; here is the link for the "Watercolor Portraits" class, in case you want to move up a notch and challenge yourself even further!

Next we painted "Zippy Zebra". First, we wetted the paper thoroughly and dropped cobalt blue, quinacridone gold and burnt sienna. This variegated wash should go down, not thoroughly mixed (then it's no longer variegated!), but randomly to suggest green growths outdoors. Keep the wash mid-tone, not light; use enough paints. If the wash turns out too pale, you have to wet the entire negative space again and do the second layer. The fortune never favors the wishy-washy wimps!

Then we gave a very pale gold wash in parts of the back to start "modeling" the form. We talked a great deal about the meaning of "form (a three-dimensional thing) on a two-dimensional surface of the paper. We painted long, narrow form shadow along the neck with the mixture of cobalt blue and a little cadmium red. We also painted small form and cast shadows in various parts with the same mixture.

Understanding how to make a form look round through the correct rendering of soft-edged form shadows (shadow, core shadow and reflected light) and cast shadows (sometimes soft-edged, but usually hard-edged) takes a great deal of practice and years of experience! So take it easy, if you having trouble controlling soft/hard edges. This is an advanced stuff!

Last, but not least, we painted the stripes in the dark mixture of French ultramarine blue and burnt sienna (this mixture is called Jane's Gray and it's an optical black). Make sure the stripes are dark, not mid-tone. Whenever in doubt, take a picture of your work in progress, turn it into a black-and-white image by desaturating it with your phone photo editor app (if you only scan your images, you will have to figure it out somehow), and compare it with the reference. This is the fool-proof way of self-critiquing, which is a very important skill to develop.

Be careful not to make the stripes to smooth-edged in the body of the zebra. Be also super careful to render the awesome mohawk hair along the spine to appear soft. The top edge is more burnt sienna than just dark. Apply some strokes along the edge to suggest the hair texture (most textures should occur at the edges and not inside; this kind of texture is a lot more effective!)

Carry on painting the dark stripes in the head, paying extra attention to render eyes and the muzzle, which has quite a bit of burnt sienna at the central top area. Don't obliterate the barely-noticeable nostrils and mouth opening that's catching light. Any portrait, either of a human or an animal, should show the anatomy of the subject



Friday, March 11, 2022

"Dame Maggie Smith" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9")


"Dame Maggie Smith"


 The following is what we did in the sixth and seventh weeks of the winter term, 2022 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class (my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).  

I worked on "Dame Maggie Smith", picking up where I left it off last week. The left side of the face in generally warmer and lighter; the right side, darker and cooler. I showed you how to paint wrinkles, not as lines but as long shapes, softening them as I went along. These wrinkles must go in when all the planes/structures have been painted to satisfaction. Additional details never make a painting.

At the end, I added the white gouache touches whenever I felt I have lost highlights. We use it with a lot less water, but never straight out of the tube. It dries lighter than you expect, so you may have to go over more than once. If you went too far, with white patches all over the place, you will have to glaze over them with very pale tones (yellow or red depending on the situation).

I also emphasized never to underline the lower lid lines. Don't paint nostrils as dark slits! They often connect with surrounding dark or mid-dark shapes. Be careful with the lips; connect the lips (especially lower lip) with the surrounding tones.

The neck is much darker (although there are some highlights) than the face. I used cad red, madder brown, perylene maroon, perylene violet, cobalt blue, and ultramarine violet.

The eyebrows should be part of larger, mid-tone shapes, not isolated caterpillars. They also change values/hues they arc.

Except the blue (cobalt blue) or violet (I used ultramarine violet), the shadows in the face and neck are all warm.The hair cast shadows, which connect with the form shadows of the face.

I talked about the hair last week. Make it appear soft with extensive lifting/softening along the hairlines (both outer and inner) and inside the hair shape. The hair is a series of long light/mid-tone/dark shapes, never individual strands.

For the last hour, I talked about how to paint portraits of dark-skinned subjects. The dark skins are never to be painted with earth colors (burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, sepia, etc.), which will only result in dull, dirty looking complexions. They vary a great deal: you can find ocher, gold, orange, red, brown, mahogany, magenta, green, blues, and various shades of purples.

"Earth Color Swatches"

You can mix your own browns with cad red/cobalt blue or cad red/permanent sap green, pushing the mixture either way. They are preferable to burnt sienna, which, by itself, never takes my breath away. I am sharing with you the swatches of reds, violets, and some additional colors (including Piemontite genuine by Daniel Smith--my only brown, which I use on its own).
"Mixing Your Own Browns"

"Red Swatches"

"Purple Swatches"

"Additional Color Swatches"

At the very end of the class, I showed you how I would paint the black hair. I decided to wet the hair shape and drop the mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. I also showed you how to soften the hairlines (both inner and outer) by going around with a clean damp brush before the hair shape dried. What you see is the highlights. I will add darker shapes of the hair (while softening edges at the same time; remember the hair is all about softness) and finish the portrait next week.

"Raven in Progress"

Sunday, March 6, 2022

"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl" (watercolor on paper; 11" x 10")


"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl"

The following is the description of what we did in the sixth week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

Yesterday I talked a lot to inspire you into doing more art and especially more drawing everyday. Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing is an invaluable drawing resource any aspiring artist should have in her or his bookshelf and do exercises from daily. The fountain pen with waterproof ink (instead of Micron pens) I use when I am traveling or at home is the Platinum Carbon Ink Desk Fountain Pen. It has an extra fine line; the one I have been using for several years extensively shows no wear; I have two (one with black ink and the other, brown).

The brush pen I showed is the Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen. There are many similar brush pens in the market and this one is IT. It has a steep learning curve and not everyone's cup of tea. At the end of the day, all you need for drawing practice is a sketchbook and a pencil!

I am not sharing any links for watercolor sketchbooks. There are too many out there to bother and it's a personal choice. You gotta go through several until you find your favorite. And please finish all your sketchbooks so that you can brag about it (very few people do)!

I also talked about drawing in perspective with the aid of a ruler, which is not necessary but I bet opened your eyes. Some of your drawings were definitely wonky. Although I said a wonky drawing is preferable to a sleek, traced drawing, it doesn't mean you have to live with wonky drawings for the rest of your life. Nobody is born with the gift to draw beautifully. Even the great masters practiced incessantly.

After the light pencil drawing was done (erase the construction lines if you have any), we did the line work over with a dip pen and black India ink. This is when I "redraw" where I see drawing errors. Yes, you can draw without the prior pencil drawing. It's a nerve-wrecking, yet exhilarating experience. You have no idea how risky and dangerous an artist's daily life is! You don't have to be a snowboarder. Lol.

You can apply a slight pressure where you want an emphasis (this is called a varied light weight in art lingo). Be careful with this, otherwise you end up with a sprung pen (permanently ruined!). India ink also has a steep learning curve. Just because you felt awkward using the dip pen and ink first time, don't give upon them. Practice!

In the pen and wash technique, the pen line does at least 60% of the work, so the wash (watercolor part) goes fast with minimum fuss. That's why this technique is so popular among travel-journal artists. It has a bit of illustration feel and perhaps that's why so many illustrators use it (or is it the other way around)?

I am not going to tell you what colors I used for that reason. Keep colors of the mandarin oranges bright and glowing (don't forget the alizarin crimson core shadows though)! This glowing illusion comes from leaving the highlights pure white by painting around! (You can do that with the leaves or silver bowl or anything shiny you feel like painting). The darks were the usual mixture of ultramarine blue and crimson. For the silver bowl, I used cobalt blue as the base color and added different paints as fit.

Try to paint the shadow (luminous and beautiful purple, and not dirty-looking; remember overmixing results in dirty colors and it's the curse to the watercolorist) when the base of the bowl is still wet. Your painting should have a flowing look, not a disjointed and disharmonious one. That's why I often start painting the object B right next when the object A is still wet so that watercolor will bleed (yes, definitely nerve-wrecking).

Below is the image of the demo. In the demo, I didn't do any glazing because I ran out of time. It doesn't mean you shouldn't either. When the painting is "finished", assess the situation and do some glazing if deemed necessary. Remember that too many beginners and no-longer-beginners announce their paintings finished too soon


"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl Class Demo"


Friday, March 4, 2022

"Baby Angeline" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9")

"Baby Angeline"

The following is what we did in the fifth and sixth weeks of the winter term, 2022 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class (my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

First, I showed some pages from Burne Hogarth's Drawing the Human Head to illustrate the developmental stages of the human head.

"Child Head Development I"

"Child Head Development II"

"Child Head Development III"

Next, I talked about my skin tone palette. Cadmium red is the base for all races; I may add a little yellow (it doesn't seem to matter a great deal which yellow); I may shift to a cooler red (usually Sennelier Helios purple); I may add a little cobalt blue or permanent sap green. To suggest the sky reflections on the face, neck and shoulders, I may use very pale cobalt turquoise light (Winsor Newton) at the beginning. I don't use burnt sienna or burnt umber for dark-skinned subjects; they tend to muddy up complexions, which should be luminous no matter what.

Rose dore (Winsor Newton) and Naples yellow reddish (Schimincke) are my cheat colors, which I sometimes use. Some paints are very opaque or highly pigmented; cobalt turquoise light, Naples yellow reddish and, of course, cadmium red are such colors. Use lots of water! Always use lots of water!

Skin Tone Color Swatches.jpg
"Skin Tone Swatches"

Since skin tones are generally reddish, the color red is the most important hue for painting portraits. I have many; you don't have to buy all of them. The chart below shows the warm red and cool reds. The color temperature is a relative thing, so the same color can look cool or warm depending on what's next to it. I also use lower-chroma colors such as perylene maroon and perylene violet. (I have another chart of violets!) I don't have time to mix all these colors (some can be mixed; others cannot) in the middle of washes because watercolor dries fast leaving blotchty patches.

Color Swatches Reds.jpg
"Warm and Cool Red Swatches"

Finally, I did a little demo of an infant portrait (just the most nerve-wrecking first layer). I will finish it in the next class. 

"Baby Angeline in Progress"

This week I finished "Baby Angeline" and showed you what colors I use for the skin tones. What's important in painting an infant is making sure the structure of the head is apparent and highlights are preserved!

For the face and neck, I painted the highlights with very pale cobalt turquoise light, then continued with pale cadmium red (sometimes with a little cad yellow pale). If the area felt cool, I used instead Sennelier Helios purple (I highly recommend this paint; I don't use permanent rose much). I also used cobalt blue and a little permanent sap green whenever I saw blue or green. Caucasian skin tones have a lot of blues and greens! For the neck, I also used perylene maroon and perylene violet, and madder brown. And of course many layers!

For the blue eyes, I used indigo blue (never use bright blue for blue eyes!)

For the dark lines or shapes in the face (such as nostrils, upper lash lines, the inside or corners of the mouth), use warm darks (perylene maroon, perylene violet, moonglow, the mixture of blues and crimson leaning warm, etc.). The upper lash lines may be cool. Never use paynes gray or indigo blue. And layer and instead of going too dark too fast!

For the hair, I used burnt sienna (Daniel Smith) and cad red (you can't tell where the hair begins and the forehead begins, so I painted accordingly).

As you can see in the finished image above, I used a lot of cool red in this portrait and reserved cad red for warm areas only. The name of the game is layering with pure colors and avoiding lines. Infants are all about softness, so avoid getting the skin tones dirty by overmixing (it applies to all ages and races!) and making too many lines.