Loose watercolour portraits

Since my last post I’ve been working on a few commissions which I can’t share yet, so I thought I’d give you another peek into my sketchbook.

Watercolour portrait illustration

Last week I was working on improving my watercolour technique for drawing people. It’s one thing to paint inanimate objects and animals, but quite another to apply the same technique to people.

Watercolour portrait illustration is definitely an area where I need more practice, but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from these paintings. I’ve drawn a lot of portraits in the past but have always tried to be as detailed and accurate as possible. I find watercolour needs an alternative approach. It needs to be built up in layers, and it isn’t until right at the end that the piece comes together and looks like the person it’s meant to look like. Take look at this family portrait commission I did, or the miniature portraits in my artist portfolio (scroll to the end).

The first person I painted was Leonardo DiCaprio – I’m not sure why, he was the first celebrity who popped into my head. I like to paint celebrities as everyone can recognise them.

watercolour portrait illustration

I feel that I wasn’t loose enough with this one, but it helped me practise using layering and glazing, as well as colour mixing and recognising values in the reference photo.

I definitely loosened up with my painting of Harrison Ford. I chose him because although he’s old enough to be my grandad (even great grandad!), I have a teensy crush on him!

watercolour portrait illustration

The reason I like this style of painting is that if you look closely it’s just a mish mash of coloured blobs, but from a distance they merge together to highlight the lights and shadows of the facial contours. I want to continue experimenting with layering colour in this way.

watercolour portrait illustration

Wildlife illustration

Moving back to a tighter way of painting again, I also painted this little frog, who’s about half the size of your palm (if your palm is the same size as mine…).

wildlife illustration

He turned out well too, which makes me happy. While a lot of the enjoyment is about the process, for me it also comes from seeing that process turn into a painting I’m really satisfied with.

Take a look at some of my other watercolour wildlife illustrations.

That’s it for today folks. I need to find some new arty link ups to join in with – if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday!

9 thoughts on “Loose watercolour portraits

  1. These are AWESOME Clare. Your portrait work is stunning. I am always really blown away by your ability to paint people. I love that sort of ‘blobby’ technique you used. Both of them are fabulous and I couldn’t really pick which I like most. The froggy is amazing. :-)
    I agree about Mr Ford – I too find him rather cool 😀 LoL
    Hugz
    IKE xxx

    1. Thank you Ike! Harrison Ford definitely has a certain attractiveness for an older gentleman! I hope you’re keeping well and enjoying some sunny weather – you’re almost certain to have it better than us at the moment, what a dreary August we’re having! xx

  2. Wow you are SO TALENTED!! I love your Leo…it’s one of the best I have seen. Harrison is awesome too!! Wow these really are special!! Love your frog too!!

    Hugs Giggles

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