A different creative project each week…from children's parties to sewing curtains

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cheats WaterColour

When I was a teenager my generous Aunty and Uncle bought me a watercolour set that I have adored ever since. I enjoyed using it for my A Level art project, but in recent years I have not used it and have become increasingly scared of it!

But with my newly acquired art room needing some pretty pictures I decided to have a go at painting some portraits of the children.

This blog entry is a hideous reflection on how much of a cheat I am, but I am so thrilled with the results that I hope you might find it in your hearts to forgive me and maybe even try some painting yourself.

Firstly I located a picture of each child. I quickly discovered that the best photos to use were the ones you had to enlarge. The fewer pixels meant it was easier to pick out the tones. You can see from this photo I have chosen Jessie (top left). Her face has a light and dark shadows which again will help you work out the colour tones.

I use a Mac, but I understand on most computers there is the ability to mess around with your images.

Here I have enlarged her face, then go onto the 'Edit' button and then 'Adjust'. I was able to move the levels around to create a black and white image with the contrast between the black and white tones as stark as I could.

I copied the image to a word document, creating it the exact size I want.
Once I printed the image, I laid it onto some good quality watercolour paper and drew around the dark areas of the image using a biro.

Ideally you want to keep these lines fairly simple. If necessary you can go back over the image later.

Once you have finished remove the image to reveal the marks you have made.

Now it is a case of picking one or two colours that you fill in the shapes. I used a red for the darkest areas and a yellow for the lighter shaded parts. Nothing should be painted over the white areas on your image. You need to constantly refer back to your printed image to work out what needs colouring or not.

Watercolours are a fun and easy medium to use. I know it sounds obvious but you should use lots of water to pull your colours around.

Once your basic shapes are there then you can add more detail like the eyes, nose and teeth. If this scares you then keep it simple.

Up close it looks like blodges of colour, but once you stand back the image comes together.  If you are more brave than me you should try more colours. 

As you can see I certainly became more confident as I went on.

I know this painting is cheating, but it was a great encouragement to me that I could pick up a paint brush and create something simple and yet beautiful. I love having photos of my children, but there is something so lovely and charming about a portrait painting, especially one you have done yourself.

This post is dedicated to my very creative Aunty Jenny and my fabulous Uncle Richard for providing me with the watercolour set in the first place!

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