Picked up a great book on watercolor portrait skills, by Charles Reid (Portrait Painting in Watercolor – out of print, but available used on Amazon). It’s a fabulous book. Here are two studies I did recently following the techniques in the book.
Reid’s teaching technique is not the usual sort – very detailed, very specific, but also somewhat demanding, in that you had better be prepared to practice and to paint over and over to grasp what he’s teaching. He uses broad strokes and wet-in-wet to develop features that are at once loose and detailed. He does it by paying very close attention to every detail of those broad strokes, and how they interact both wet/dry and wet/wet. Highly recommended.
The eye was done with approximately a portrait palette (some available reds and yellows, Cerulean blue), and the lips/nose are just a value study in a handy dark brown, probably Van Dyke Brown. I had a bit of bad luck with the way the patches ran together on the edge of the lower lip, but it was still very instructive.
Really like Reid’s style, and will be doing many more studies and some paintings in a similar style.