Let me start off by saying I have to return to Peru! Maybe it will happen sooner rather than later but as I come to an end of the Peruvian leg of my travel memories I did learn a lot along the way which helped me improve my approach to portraits.
This portrait is by far my favourite. I was enthralled by the multitude of colours and the stark contrast between the turquoise background against her red coat. This one took me about 11 days. I think it was because I was so in love with everything about it and didn’t want to take too long to finish so I was excited about seeing the end product and getting it all the way I wanted to.
I did a trial version of the wall background because I needed to have it all perfectly executed and I guess this is where my perfectionist nature emerges! But I’m so pleased with the end result. After completing this piece; I was pretty much an expert with the masking fluid and capturing the details. In my reference photo, she was behind a table so I had to make up her skirt, but in the end all turned out well!
I’m almost at the end of the Peruvian leg of my memories and this one was not as complex – I think subconsciously I needed a break from all the details. I really love how vibrant her hat was against the contrast of the white wall. I’m not sure I captured her the way I really wanted to, and at times I feel like doing it over because the perfectionist in me is coming out, but I still love it.
The subtle shadows on the wall weren’t as difficult to capture as I thought the straps on her hat however, was much more demanding. The biggest lesson from this experience so far has been acquiring patience and trusting the process. Sometimes in the beginning, when just the undertones are laid down, I begin to doubt some decisions and constantly have to remind myself to relax and go with the flow (no pun intended!).
This next piece challenged me in many ways. The first was getting his facial expression right. He wasn’t exactly smiling, and had a small, slightly upturned mouth. I also really wanted to capture the sun-burnt cheeks that most Peruvians have with my paint application. Lastly, the biggest challenge was executing such an intricately designed poncho!
Getting the under-painting down came easier with all those min-portraits I did in the last few months. What took the most time was that poncho! I questioned my decision to do it many times – could I do it? Can I capture the shadow and light within all those patterns? the masking fluid application in itself was a huge task! My last big decision was whether or not to paint the background behind him or do a wash; mostly because I was already overwhelmed by the details of everything else, but I wanted to test my limits and went with the background of the photo. I wanted the multi-coloured clothing to be the thing that drew in the viewer the most so I made the background not appear too prominent with more muted tones utilising more water.
In the end, I”m really happy how he turned out!
As a self-taught artist navigating your medium of interest without the help of classmates can be interesting. I joined one of those Facebook group’s about watercolours to learn and gain some exposure to other artists practicing the medium and someone posted about fugitve colours.
Having never heard of it before, I was intrigued. What is a fugitive colour? Was I using any of those shades? What does it mean for my artwork? So I did some digging and found this post on Artists Network, which helped me out.
After reading up on it, it did make me question the longevity of a watercolour painting, whether fugitive colours are used or not. I haven’t started brushing up on my art history, but I intend to as well as experiment with different brands. Some google research educated me on the longevity of certain paints versus others. In this regard, while I am enjoying the process of using watercolours in my work so far, I can’t wait to explore my other mediums of interest.
Having lived in Peru for about 11 months while going to school it was my first time living outside of my country for such a long period of time. It was definitely an adjustment not hearing your native language 98% of the time but sampling new foods, seeing new locations and making new friends helped with that adjustment. I also managed to learn Spanish along the way; I really had no choice in the matter and I’m glad I did 🙂
Peru for me represents a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, the challenges associated with living in any developing country became quite evident at times(and more so in another language) and on the other, my desire to explore its geography and immerse myself in the culinary world made the challenges (and the extra pounds) worth it!
I am in love with colour. Seeing the indigenous people in all their colourful splendour was a sight to behold – it’s what inspired my first piece in this collection. I actually posted about it before. In this piece, I experimented with a couple watercolour techniques to get it to my liking. I especially love his jacket where I got it to resemble the textured threads of the fabric with some dry brush and lifting of the paint. I wanted a type of 3D effect so I painted his hat outside of the colored background; I was also unaware of the use of painter’s tape for my borders, so this was my attempt at staying within the lines. Almost got it!
I feel like a collection isn’t even what you call it! But I’m currently working on my first collection of paintings…maybe it’s my first full portfolio, maybe it’s something else altogether. My intention is to produce 10 – 12 pieces and showcase in different formats/media.
Over the following weeks, I will be showing snippets of my process on my Instagram so if you’d like to see works in progress of these new pieces and my previous portrait posts, head on over!
For now, I’ll leave with this first teaser of my collection/portfilio/artistic reveal!
My most recent portrait felt so much easier to do this time despite not having done one in about a week. My goal to produce three portraits per week was put on hold over the last 2 weeks with me preparing pieces for consideration to the gallery. Needless to say I welcomed the switch to my regularly scheduled programme.
I finished this piece in about 4 hours and I am beginning to realise I really love the shadowy parts of portraits more than anywhere else. I guess it’s the richness and intensity of the colours, knowing that I can use more than one and watch them blend together is pretty satisfying. I also prefer my previous portrait in terms of the application of the layers of colours used as it gave a more of the effect I was looking for in my pieces.
Colour palettes in watercolour for skin tones can be an interesting thing. Just the thought of seeing the colours even with the knowledge of colour theory individually compared to when they are applied to your canvas make it sometimes unbelievable that such skin tones are achievable.
It also gave me the idea to keep a log of successful skin tone mixtures like this one in a palette reference book for future portraits. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. For one, I found the entire process went much more quickly than previous portraits. Additionally, my intuition to get the desired skin tone somehow seemed more responsive to picking the right ones. My Facebook has some video of the process where I laid the undertones of the complexion to the final result and it was pretty enjoyable to film. This one took me no more than 6 hours.
Do you keep a reference sheet for your swatches for different skin tones?
Continuing to experiment with different skin tones led me to this reference photo that featured bright greenish blue eyes. The shadows weren’t as intense as my previous attempts, but I loved the colours of the light and shadow on her skin so I decided why not.
The features and proportion on this one were easier to execute, but again the lashes and brows require a different tool. How strange is it that I restrict myself to just brushes but it actually just occurred to me while typing this that I could use a dip pen! Bazinga! Needless to say, this will be my next course of action on future portraits to execute the finer features.
Experimenting with skin-tones and techniques led me to another dramatically lit photo. Again, I love using purples in the shadowy areas of her face. Maintaining the balance between the appropriate amount of water and seamless blending were still a bit of an issue, but the features in this one were more proportional.
This mini-portrait challenge is teaching me a lot. Capturing the features, remembering the balance between light and shadow and keeping the essentials at the back of my mind are all coming together.