Friday, June 3, 2022

"Mimosa Time" (watercolor on paper; 10" x 8")


"Mimosa Time"


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

This week we are exploring the portrait with prominent hands. When handled well, the hands can contribute hugely to the success of the portrait, so much so that a great portrait painter is usually someone who can paint hands masterfully. Instead of avoiding a subject with hands, let's embrace the hands and try to get better!

Below is the image of my class demo in progress. Just like anything else, painting hands is all about paying attention to plane changes and value shapes, the latter caused by different amounts of light falling on them. Often the quality of light is subtle, but it is still there. In my case, there was the natural light from the window (right side) and the warm artificial light from the interior (left side). The subject's melon-color shirt also strongly influenced the colors in the hands. I had to play with the warm/cool contrast as well as the light/dark one. 

"Mimosa Time in Progress"

The end game here is modeling the hand (with five fingers!) successfully so that it looks three-dimensional. When I realized that I had lost the light shapes, I reintroduced them with white gouache, and there you go, the hand holding the champagne flute appeared in full glory. 

The beard is no different from anything else. Paint light and darks. Of course, hair has soft texture, so the ability to control the hard/soft edges is paramount in the success of painting a beard and mustache. My husband has a salf-and-pepper beard and I had to make sure the darks were dark enough. The hair on the left side, near the orange drink, reflected the warm color and it was important that I didn't use cool darks. Yes, values are the most important things, but color temperature has to be sometimes considered as well.
When I was satisfied with the light/dark pattern of the beard and mustache, I went over to add the "salt" part with white gouache using my "lifting"brush. I was mindful not to overdo these finishing touches. Remember that it's not the details, but the overall light and dark pattern and soft texture, that gives the impressions of the facial hair or any hair.


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