Portrait of a Boy and his Grandpa - Watercolor Demonstration Part 1

So excited to have the chance to do a watercolor of a small boy and his grandfather at the beach!

For this custom order, the client decided on a painting of 14x11 inches which is a fabulous size to paint a head and shoulders portrait.

The small painting that I am holding is a study that I did in watercolor. Doing a study allows me to play with colors and shading so that when I do the large piece, I'll know what I want to do, but I don't worry overmuch about getting an exact likeness.

Read on and I'll show you how I paint the boy's face in the large portrait.

One of the most important things with watercolor is to make sure the base drawing is accurate. It's horrible to spend a lot of time on a painting only to suddenly realize that something is not drawn right (ask me how I know!). With watercolor, it's not easy to make big corrections.

Therefore, I've become a fan of doing a drawing on drawing paper first so I can erase and change things to my heart's content. Then I use transfer paper to apply the drawing to  the watercolor paper. Below is the transferred drawing waiting for paint!

When painting a portrait I want to first be sure that I catch the features, so I start with faces and skin tones. Below, I paint shades of color to shape the boy's face keeping in mind the color zones of the face.

Then I paint the rest of his skin tones while I'm at it. His skin is fair, so I use cool, soft colors.

I paint warmer skin tones for the man. You can see the color zones more prominently in his face: yellow or white on the brow; red cheeks, nose and ears; bluer tones below the nose and cheeks.

OK, now to do more shaping. This little boy is very blond, so I portray the silky strands of hair under his cap by painting shadows on his face and leaving the hair lighter.

I also wet the face and add more color and shading.

Then I wet the face again adding more color. When this is dry, I paint in some details on the nose, lips and ears.

Next I paint his blue eyes. That brings him to life!

Click here to see how I paint Pops (the boy's grandfather).

I'm happy to take custom orders. Please contact me for a custom painting of your pet, home, garden, grandkids, favorite vacation spot or whatever your heart desires.
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