Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Water Color Portrait in Progress

< Yesterday I gave a private lesson to a young, very talented lady by the name of Heather. She loves water color and wants to learn the fine art of portraiture in this medium. We did three hours of painting (from a color reference photo and painting on a half sheet of 140lb. cold press)) starting with laying down a light wash for the skin ranging from yellows to warm and cool reds. Those washes go right into the hair, over the "whites" of the eyes, and even over the "white" of the teeth. As we progress, notice how little detail is put into the teeth! That was followed up with painting the darker values in the facial features such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. I most always like to start with the eyes as you see here. The trick with facial features is to make them look natural and not to outline them. The world is made up of value variations and not lines. Some values merge, some contrast. It is all there if you have sensitiized ("sensitized"...did I just make up a word??) your eyes to see them. Speaking of values contrasting and merging, check out the "line" or hard edge between the jaw and neck and the merging or value graduation from the left side of the neck to the middle of the neck. Finally, we finished up with the hair...the dreaded hair!!!...the most challenging part of the portrait. Yes, I "cheated" and used some conte crayon for some strands... so sue me! By the way, in the fourth photo, you see my student surrounded by my painting, the reference photo, and an open Chrles Reid book for inspiration on painting hair without having to go in and paint every strand...just masses of color and value and a few strands.

34 comments:

gogo said...

Great work! and also great narration:))
I loved it, thank you very much.
Maybe I'll try that at home some time.

By the way, that word would probably be derived as "sensitivized" ;)

David Lobenberg said...

Gogo: Glad you like my work and narration. Thanks for dropping by. I think you are onto something with "sensitivized" although I can't find it in my dictionary and my computer is throwing up warning signs. I like that word anyway!

Myrna said...

Beautiful, as always. Love the close cropped image. I've forgotten how to paint on plain wc paper! I shall use this as a tutorial.

David Lobenberg said...

Thank you Myrna! I am just starting to work on Turban Man, but may not complete it for a couple of weeks.

Mike said...

This is stunning, Dave! I too appreciate the narrative . . .Great stuff, Bud!

TSL said...

I gave away some watercolors, and now I wish I hadn't. Nice work!

Ed Terpening said...

Watercolor is still such a mystery. Love to see these progressive photos.

Nick said...

I can't paint like that, so I'm impressed. And I even like the final shot! (I usually prefer one of the unfinished stages)

milindmulick said...

great job undobtably..
I do kind of agree with Nick also.
have you started on the turban-man?

David Lobenberg said...

Mike, Ed, Myrna, and Nick: You made my day yesterday with your always valued comments! Thank you!

David Lobenberg said...

TSL: That is a comment to massage my ego (that I always keep at low ebb since there are so many artists in the world to constantly learn from and be inspired by.) I shall visit your blog.

Barbara M. said...

Hi David,

Lovely portrait. I like the comment about teeth. I usually ask my subjects not to smile because teeth can be so scary. The answer is exactly what you've done. As usual I stand in awe of your talent and vigour.

Take care,

Barbara

Kathy said...

Great figure study! Wish I was in that class. I would have learned a lot. Figures are not easy to do in watercolor. Wish I could do them. Great inspiration for all of us.

David Lobenberg said...

Next time you do one of your hot portraits, Barbara, have your subject say "cheese".

David Lobenberg said...

Thanks Kathy. Many years of practice has gone into my h2o portraiture. I'm still learning!

gogo said...

well, this is an outdated conversation, I know, but I am incorrigibly obsessed with linguistics and I have been thinking about that word since I read your post.
who cares about dictionaries:p
if sb/sth can be desensitized, it can also be sensitized and resensitized:)
by the way, I found a dictionary entry too:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sensitize

I'm looking forward to your next post.
Best wishes...

David Lobenberg said...

gogo:Thanks for the online dictionary site. I'll book mark it.

joerucker said...

interesting how you can work from photos. never been too good at that myself.
thanks for checking my blog. yeah, ktw has skills; i always like seeing someone keep a regular practice.
catch ya later

http://www.onpainting.wordpress.com said...

Very strong piece. I've been struggling with a smiling mouth on a portrait I'm doing so I can appreciate how well you are handling it here.

Kathy said...

I keep coming back to look at this great piece of work. I am facinated by it and wish I could do this. Make a video and sell it to us.

David Lobenberg said...

Hope to see you again at S12, Joe.

David Lobenberg said...

Thanks, Onpainting (Bill).

David Lobenberg said...

Kathy: I've been thinking about some h2o videos and your remark is the last straw!...I'm gonna do it.

David Burge said...

Excellent portrait David.
Vigour, animation and sparkle.
I also applaud your minimal work on the teeth, the only way to go.

Kathy said...

And I will buy the first copy!! and the second...Too bad you live so far away. I have a guy here who wants to do one for me. I would say we are all behind you on this one!! Go for it!!!

Peggy Montano & Paintings said...

David,
Thank you for this demo. I learned from it. I have loved doing watercolor portraits from photos. Usually, they turn out to be my interpretation and not a likeness. ;-)

David Lobenberg said...

Thanks for the support, Kathy!

David Lobenberg said...

Peggy: I love and strive for what I might call an"interpretive likeness" in a portrait. I'll have one coming up on a post soon.

bonnieluria said...

What always impresses me about your paintings is how you grab the essence so early on in the work.

In the second from bottom photo, you've already given Heather life and spark.

I really enjoyed the series of photos and your tips on teeth.
Better than anything my dentist ever gave me.

Wonderful work again David.
Your students are lucky.

David Lobenberg said...

Thank you artist lady, ex NYC slicker now living somewhere in the Caribbean. That second shot is the stage in my painting where I lay down the darker values in the facial features, and I like to start with the eyes. It is the eyes, I think, that put fourths the life and spark of the of the person.

Carol King said...

What a beautiful watercolor portrait. And I loved how you showed your work in stages. Struggling to learn how to paint in general and do faces in particular this was helpful. You are so very talented.

David Lobenberg said...

Thanks, Carol. I'm glad you are getting something from seeing the stages of this watercolor. I plan on doing a DVD in the near future.

Irene Rencsi said...

Wow! Gave me goosebumps...I absolutely love this!

ritu said...

Its really a very nice work.David sir.