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"

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