Thursday, 6 December 2012


For the past few weeks we have been doing portraits across the board in my watercolour classes.
Sawston evening  class, like my other classes have been drawing and painting faces with subtle colour mixing, and hard & soft edges.
The primary focus of these exercises, apart from the drawing proportions, was to learn how to mix colours on the paper, without hard edges, and enough, so they were slightly neutral, with a hint of intense.
The portrait below illustrates this point, with hints of blue and green on the skin tones, which added interest without leaving the subject in the portrait looking bruised.

Then the Sawston class moved on to creating portraits with strong intense colours.
The object of this exercise was to lay the pigment down and leave it alone, this can be harder than you think!
This involved mixing colours on the paper allowing the colours to do their own mixing across a very fluid surface, with little manipulation from us, therefore avoiding neutral mixes.

I was aware from experience that some learners would love the way the paint did it's own thing, whilst the lack of control made others nervous,

However, it is important to explore all the possibilities and  potential watercolour painting holds, no matter what style of painting you prefer, it allows you to thoroughly explore the medium.

These portraits were not finished, but to my mind, had phenomenal potential to be stunners!

As we did the background wash last week, and we were already practised at adding features, I felt it best that we finished our portraits off at home, and move on to a 3rd colour mixing exercise.

I set up a still life of clear, see through glass objects of analogous colours with 1 complimentary, the Dahlia,  oranges being on the opposite side of the colour wheel, and therefore complimentary.

The object of this exercise, apart from understanding a little colour theory, was to build up washes in glazes, which involves waiting for 1 wash to dry, before painting over it wet on dry with another translucent colour wash.

However, again  from experience of Learners being impatient to wait for a wash to dry properly, I asked them to paint at least 4 sections of the still life, so that work could be carried on whilst other parts were drying.

However, even this did not deter the most impatient of us, and there was a struggle to wait, resulting in soft edges where the paint had not dried sufficiently.

However, where there were successful glazes laid down the results were lovely and revealing.

More of this in spring you Sawston lot! You'll sit there and wait for it to dry even if it takes all night! And you'll go to bed without supper! ; )

This was the last class before the Christmas holidays, see you all in the spring term!
G x

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