All Smiles Now – Painting

All Smiles Now

Portrait #15 of my 30 x 30 Portrait Challenge. “All Smiles Now” watercolor 11″x7.5″ on Arches 140lb cold press watercolor paper.

Swatches

If you saw my last post, you saw my value study. During the painting process, I tried to only refer to the drawing, rather than the source photo. I played around with some different pigment options before beginning the painting. I wanted the colors to be softer than some previous portraits I have done for this challenge. I settled on the combination on the bottom (see Swatches image); Quinacridone Red and Coral, Raw Sienna Light, and Manganese Blue Hue.

I saturated the paper front and back. While the paper soaked, I mixed up my pigment piles, plus a violet mix with the rose and manganese. I dried the paper back to damp, but wet the shadow areas again, so I could drop the colors in and let them swim around together, without worrying about the colors floating in the drier paper. Damp paper will hold a soft edge. On dry paper, the edges dry too hard for my liking, especially for a little girl subject.

I put down a thin layer of blue in the eye sockets, under the nose and mouth to start, then applied rose, coral, and raw sienna next to the blue to let them mix on the paper. I then gently caressed the colors together.

I left the highlights in the eye dry, so they would stay white. Not the “whites of the eye,” though. just the highlight that crosses the iris and pupil. The “whites” are actually quite dark, sort of gray tones. I like to have a blue base for the eye socket and the teeth. When I’m painting a big smile, I avoid yellow anywhere near the teeth because it makes them look decayed.

I slowly built up the value layers, being careful to soften all the transitions while the paint was wet. I only wanted hard edges around the eyes and mouth. For the hair, I used mostly raw sienna, with purple shadows. I did have to bring in some Cobalt Blue Violet in order to create the darks in the mouth and eyes. The manganese blue is too high value to achieve the darks.

I’m not sure the painting is complete yet. As I look at it, I may make a few adjustments. But then sometimes we have to be brave enough to quit when it’s 80% done, to avoid that overworked look? I’ll sleep on it. Stay tuned. Compare to value study drawing. Does it look like the same little girl? I did use my drawing to trace up the contours for the painting. Click on images for a larger view.

All Smiles Now – Drawing

All Smiles Now – Watercolor, 11″x7.5″

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