portraits on toned paper

Blue Ink Brown Ink

DeAtramentis blue document ink on 9 X 12″ Canson Mix Media paper: sketched from pics on Sktchy Museum app

Playing with my new inks here! These document inks by DeAtramentis are insoluble when dry and they don’t clog your fountain pen. As you can see here, sometimes when diluted the red pigment separates out in a lovely way.

I used this as an exercise in speed sketching with fountain pen and brush, trying to just capture the features that struck me the most about these poses. Working from right to left (cause I’m left handed) in order to not smear wet ink, it turned out that the ones on the right were the warm up. It’s hard for me to exaggerate features as I intended. I just get so lost in the joy of putting down line and shape and color to paper and my brain shuts off. Guess that’s why I’m so addicted to figure drawing! 

DeAtramentis document Brown ink

Slowing down here and trying out some other ideas. My favorite is the guy in the lower left, done in about 5-10 minutes but with the experience of the others to teach me what to avoid, like over working! 

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Such an adorable pixy face and that bird’s nest hair! No rushing this one, I just kept putting on layers and let the watercolor blossoms do the work of the “nest”.

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Sometimes watercolor really doesn’t work well on this toned paper, so what you get is frustration and unwelcome texture (not to mention curled paper!) I’ve thought I might paint over this in rich creamy gouache and see what happens, but it’s probably smarter to just start over or move on. Not much point in using the toned paper if you’re going to cover it all up with paint!

Looks like Sktchy has a 30 day April watercolor portrait challenge going on. I’ve done a few of these and always loved them. They helped me get in the habit of finding time for at least a quick bit of sketching every day, even when there’s a hundred other things begging for my time!

Splatter Your Background

pencil and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Field Watercolor Journal

(thanks to Julie Kim whose picture is on Sktchy Museum)

Why is it so hard for many of us to “stay loose”, especially when drawing and painting the figure?

I’ve been seeking the cure for tightness for many years. Here’s what generally helps: 

Speed for one. Set your timer and go for it.

Splatter for two. Load your brush with juicy pigment and fling it across the paper, or tap the brush handle on your finger to knock the drops off the brush.

Willingness to dirty up the page for three.

Spritzing the paper with water so control is lost. (Of course often that results in messes, but sometimes they are messes that work!)

fineliner pen, watercolor, white gouache on beige toned paper

(thanks to E.W. Parris whose pose was on Sktchy Museum)

And painting outside the lines! You can always go back in to delineate shapes with value. And often I’ll glaze the background color into parts of the figure to get color bounce.

my student work from Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop: pencil and watercolor

This pose was the source for Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop– my copy of what she demonstrated. To get the wonderful splatter background you splatter the colors used in the figure and then spritz with water so that they run and the paint dissolves into parts of the figure, creating lost and found edges. It’s one of those easy techniques that looks hard.

my student work from a Pedro Loureiro workshop on Etchr

More messy drama. Wet on wet background drama and some spicy bounced light for this lovely Guatemalan lady.

Now are you ready to get messy?!

Faces

gouache on gray toned paper

A fellow from the Sktchy picture archives – someone I’d like to meet !

What to say about this – dividing the face into fractals of color – why not stripes and dashes and thick and thin – adding and subtracting but mostly adding! That’s the beauty of gouache. You can just keep going. Come in at the end with pure color accents. That red on the tip of the nose and ear, blue in the shadow and pure white to pop. 

gouache on beige toned paper

I had to paint this redhead. Red goes with turquoise, green. Red like my hair was, and sort of still is with the help of hair coloring over the gray. Haha!