An eye and an ear

Worked on studies of facial features today. I’m tired, I have a cold, but I had enough energy for two studies (and, honestly, they are actually invigorating when I do it right). They are only tiring if I start sweating the details too much. Bold brush strokes are the most satisfying, though lately “bold” has gotten much less obviously bold.

How is that, you ask? Well, in this case, the blue shadow between eye and nose was made with lots of Cerulean Blue, wet in wet, and then some browns to control it, and make it feel somewhat natural. Likewise, the defining strokes around the eye were all quick strokes with a strongly loaded small brush. It’s great when that kind of stuff falls together; I have an eye study from yesterday that I’m not posting. It was the difficult type: overworked, didn’t feel natural at all.

Every painting is a new challenge, even if it it uses familiar methods.

Both of these studies are done from examples and discussions in Charles Reid’s book, “Portrait Painting in Watercolor.” It is a wonderful book (but hard to find, as it’s out of print), full of excellent and practical examples. Even so, it requires some close study to get the most out of it, but unlike many “how-to” books I’ve used over the years, this one is uniquely effective.

This was my first ear (I know; why did I wait so long?). I tried something new; instead of blending everything, I used straight glazing with a small brush to create the middle shades, and thus rounding. I also did a little “lost edge” in one tiny place, and it seems to work OK.

I’m having a blast with these studies. Still need to work on noses; they are so frustrating! Subtlety seems to be the name of that game. Not only do they teach me portrait methods; I am also learning other techniques such as dry brush, wet in wet, etc.

eye and ear
These are two completely separate mini-paintings!

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