Learning to Paint Watercolor Portraits

The last week in October, I took a wonderful portrait painting class by visiting artist, Jane Paul Angelhart. It was so much fun. I had never tried to paint the likeness of a person in watercolor before and had no idea that I would enjoy doing so.

Jane gave us watercolor paper with sketches printed onto it in a light color. She did demos and talked about what she was doing and then we gave it a try and she walked around and gave us tips. Here are the portraits that I did in the class:

On the last day I started a portrait of my daughter. Below is what I accomplished. I didn't get very far.

The next day, I worked on it a little more. I still had a way to go, but was happy with how it was progressing. I think it captures her likeness and has a freshness.

I haven't had time to paint in the last few weeks. (I was doing jewelry for a craft show.) Today, I finally sat down and worked on this portrait. Here is the finished product.

I learned a lot painting this. First of all, the photo that I used isn't the best. You could not see the eye detail very well and it was extremely difficult to see what was the tip of the nose and what was the shadow. The lighting is not ideal for the method we learned in class. Here is the reference photo:

Secondly, in class, Jane taught to layer many, many washes. She encouraged us to use the class to see how far you can push the layers before you go too far. Parts of this painting fall into that category. I also kept changing the background color and it ended up being a very somber dark color that I didn't think matched the smiling portrait. I ended up scrubbing off a lot of paint and putting a brighter color. It helped a bit, but the paper I was using is not of high quality and was starting to pill everywhere I scrubbed.

I definitely need more practice, but I am enjoying the process!


Goal for 2015: Pen & Ink Plus Watercolor Sketchbook

Yes, it is only mid-November, but I have completed all my major art events for the year, so my thoughts turn to setting goals for the coming year.

Today as I was going through an enormous pile of paper that has been building for the entire year, I ran across a folder of magazine and catalog tear sheets. In the days before Pinterest, I had files and files and files of various things. Now, if I see an article that I want to be able to find again, I find it online and pin it on the proper Pinterest board. This system is not foolproof, but then again, finding anything in my house on a piece of paper when I want/need it isn't either. (I do have a huge fear of Pinterest disappearing overnight, but I digress....)

Anyway, I ran across this:

I wanted to "pin" this adorable drawing on Pinterest, but could not find it online or on Pinterest. While searching for it, I ran across several other well-known artists who do drawings and sketches in ways that I admire and the idea for this post came about.

The sketchbook drawing is from a content page of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. This magazine ceased publication sometime around 2008. I was a subscriber for many years and always enjoyed the magazine, especially the inside look at one or two artists' studios. My favorites show a spunky side, like these:


Apparently, many people confuse Susan Branch with Mary Engelbreit. My google search turned up a lot of her drawings interspersed with ME's. Though equally sentimental, I've always loved seeing her work. I have several of her little books and cookbooks. My greeting card box has some of her cards in it too. I won't say that I want to draw LIKE her, but she is definitely an inspiration. Here is an example of her work:

I love the narrative quality of her artwork. Images like the one above tell a story.

The idea of learning to do a sketchbook isn't new. For years, I've wanted to take one of Peter Ulrich's sketchbook classes. Here is one of his ink and watercolor sketches:

He teaches at the Art League, but I would really love to do one of his workshop classes. Here is the sample of a previous workshop. I doubt that will happen this year, so if he offers one in town in 2015, I will sign up.

Recently, I began following Brenda Swenson on Facebook. She just returned from Italy. Oh, how I wish I could have done that workshop. Here is one of her sketchbook entries:

Today in my Googling, I also ran across a blog called Idle Minutes by Don West. (Idle Minutes is also on Facebook, btw.) I love his sketches; here's one from last Saturday:

I've added Idle Minutes to my notifications and can't wait to see what is ahead!

Are you inspired to sketch? If so, join me in my big goal is to learn to sketch and paint in my own style, under the influence of all these talented people! For a reluctant "draw-er" like me, this will be a challenge!