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Today I worked on a a watercolor portrait inspired by #PortraitswithKarl (Karl Staub) on #SktchyApp. Karl is good teacher - he explains his process and what is the inner dialogue in his head as he paints. I like how he kept his focus on experimenting with the paint and not rushing to get to a final result so soon.

For this portrait, I sketched the person's head in very loosely in pencil. I used a limited palette: Winsor Newton's Cotman Watercolors in Cad Yellow Lemon, Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue, Pthalo Blue, and Payne's Grey. To start, I looked for places where I wanted to retain the white of the paper as the highlights in the portrait. Then I blocked in the face, using thin washes of permanent rose for the initial skin tone, then added blues to create shadows. I built up the features in the face and then worked on building up the hair in the same way using blues and blacks. At the very end, I add ivory black gouache for the darkest shadows.

Painting this way requires working on one section and then moving on to another section while you wait for the original section to dry. I felt that using the thin washes to build up the colors was very forgiving - I could easily erase a mistake by diluting it with water and blotting it away with a paper towel. I noticed that the watercolor paint, similar to the gouache, was able to be reactivated with water and then gradually fading the pigment away with a brush. I used this technique to soften some of the hard edges in specific places, such as the hair.

I prefer this slower way of working - I was able to get into the flow of painting and focused on watching the color blend and merge. I'm getting better at identifying the consistency of the paint - tea, milk, cream, and butter. You start with tea and lighter values and gradually move toward cream and darker values. Butter is usually used for impasto effects.

This portrait took me about two hours to complete - which seems really fast. I didn't spend time making a grid to make an accurate drawing, I just roughly sketched it onto the page. This let me spend more time building up the layers of paint instead of trying to achieve a likeness. Even still, I think my portrait has a pretty good balance between being expressive and also looking like the original subject.

I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. Tomorrow: skulls and anatomy.

Today I decided to make swatches of all the gouache paint tubes I have lying around and experiment with blending them together using the wet-on-wet technique. I have taken classes about how to paint with gouache from these artists (listed in order of most current to oldest classes):

Sktchy- I'm currently participating this month in Painting Portraits with Karl Staub and I plan to enroll the 30 days/30 faces in Watercolor and Gouache course starting on March 1st, 2021.

Jordan Rhodes -Also known as JMR Art, Jordan demonstrates how to make amazing gouache portraits on his YouTube channel. Great inspiration for mixing realistic skin tones of people from a wide variety of races.

Lena Rivo - Artist and painter Lena Rivo recommended most of these Winsor and Newton gouache tubes for a brilliant and colorful palette. She does a really good job sharing the details for setting up her palette and the supplies for making her gouache paintings. Highly Recommend!

Deanna Maree - Deanna Maree Creative Studio offers several gouache painting courses, including The Aviary, a year-long course with a new bird to paint every month.

Skillshare - Especially Arleesha Yetzer and Cecile Yadro. Both of them have easy-to-follow classes on to basic techniques in gouache.

I'm getting to know how to mix the paint up with water so it's easier to use. I noticed that the value of the color changes based on how much water is in it. More watery paint is a lighter value while more thick paint is a darker value.

I also noticed that gouache works similar to oil paint, the "fat-over-lean" technique. But instead of using oil, you start with thin, transparent, watered-down layers and then gradually build up to thicker, darker, almost straight out of the tube layers on top. It is possible to mix light colors over dark ones, but you need to work quickly and use very little water to avoid activating the darker paint underneath the light paint.

I think the next step is to keep making small thumbnail paintings. I want to experiment with painting light and dark colors over each other without mixing them up. I also want to try painting on top of a toned paper and see how the gouache colors stand out on a colored background.