The Golden Now

Here we have my very first attempt at a portrait in watercolors and the process of how it came to be "The Golden Now"

I have no formal training in how to paint with watercolrs. I tried years ago and hated them. I wanted the colors to be bold, like the oil paints I was used to using. My attempts ended in oversaturated mess and destroyed paper. I abandoned it as a medium.  14 years later, I decided to give it another go.

Not entirely sure how to go about using watercolors, I figured the safest bet was to start with a light sketch of the image I was to paint.  I chose an old image of my little sister, Sara, loving the colors and the way the lighting looked. (Thank you Lauren Neuer for capturing the lovely moment!)

The base sketch on heavy duty watercolor paper.  It is taped down on all edges because I like the clean line it leaves and I fully intend to saturate the color, which will warp the paper if it isn't secured.

I start the background with a wash of warm colors. (you can see the original image I'm working from nearby.)

Next, I add a bit of 'texture' into the background gradient. Just little brushstrokes to build up the color.

A masking sheet is cut to just cover the portrait portion of the painting. (you can see it flipped down at the bottom right side of the painting.) This helps to keep the figure clean while spattering some darker tones of red across the background surface. (I used an old toothbrush) And finished the background by adding little cracks and squiggles in the same dark red.  Sure it's not actually in the background of the photo, but as the artist, artistic lisense is mine to take.

With the background complete and dry, I can begin adding skin tones.

The hair starts to fill in and the shadows around the face. The eyes are painted in as well.  Went a bit overboard on the shadows....

Skin highlights are added back in, and the hair turns darker.  All of the features are starting to sharpen up.

I took another artistic liberty and made the shirt a solid color instead of a patern.  With the shirt painted, it's nearly completed...

Final details and a professional photograph to catch all the little color shifts and it's done!

The Golden Now, Watercolor on Paper, 11x21"

The Golden Now, Watercolor on Paper, 11x21"