|"Sabrina at Hanauma Bay"|
The following is what we did in the seventh and eighth weeks of the spring term, 2022 in my "Watercolor Portraits" class (my online Zoom classes with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).
The last independent project is the full-length portrait and the focus of the last two weeks of the spring term. The following three images are from Laurel Hart's "Putting People in Your Paintings". She has a YouTube channel with full-length videos. Check them out!
|"Figure Proportions I"|
|"Figure Proportions II"|
I also introduced two books: Christopher Hart's "Figure it Out!: Human Proportions" and "The Complete Book of Poses for Artists" by Ken Goldman and Stephanie Goldman.
There are a number of ways of handling a full-length portrait but, in my opinion, the easiest way is focusing on the light and shadow pattern in the face and body and paint it in either two (light and dark) or three (light, mid-tone, and dark) values. (Refer to the third image from Laurel Hart's book.) If you are capable, you can soften the edges since face, torso, and limbs are round objects of either egg-like or cylindrical forms.
But keeping the light and shadow patterns distinct is more important in rendering the human form in such a small scale than softening edges. My demo painting, "Sabrina in Hanauma Bay, Oahu", is 14" tall and her head is only 1 1/2" tall, whereas the average human head is 9" tall. (Remember that the average person is 7 to 7 1/2 head long; my daughter, who is 5' 2" tall, is less than that.) The features are tiny, but if you draw the light/shadow pattern right, the subject will emerge miraculously, as you can see in the work in progress below!
|"Sabrina in Hanauma Bay in Progress"|
I used the three value method for "Sabrina at Hanauma Bay" and "Artist at 28". You can paint anything, not just skin tones, in three values, be that the hair, clothes, or whatever! For the image below from my whimsical figure journal that I keep for pure fun, I used Schmincke's naples yellow reddish (light), rose dore (mid-tone), and perylene violet (dark). You can use whatever colors of your choice that harmonize well with each other; just designate a different color for each value.
|"Two Women in Black"|
I used watercolor pencil shavings and water spritz to create the sand texture in the beach. I also used watercolor pencils the draw in some patterns in the coverup, then painted dark shadow patterns with indigo blue; to restore light patterns, I used white gouache. For these tiny portraits, if you are having trouble getting features right, you may want to consider using either watercolor pencils or colored pencils in appropriate colors.
Below is the finished image of "Artist at 28". The painting is based on an old photo that was taken when I was 28 years old. I look like a girl!