When a portrait is realized, it is necessary that the first rough drawing is sufficiently complete and contains all the elements that precisely define the

Try to remember. . .
* To simplify your painting, paint the shapes of light and shade

* It is important to position yourself to the subject at the spot where the light and shade make the most interesting shapes

* The number and placement of shapes is compositionally important

* Take time to verbalize vague notions into concrete ideas

* Select the most appropriate elements to express ideas and emotions

* Use light to express emotion

* Capture light at a specific time of day

* Develop harmony of colour

* Paint the effects of strong light

* Catch a subject’s luminosity

* This needs lot of experience and hard work and concentration of mind, where to put the correct colours at the correct time. Learn from those who have more experience, but always trust your instincts

features of the face, thus allowing easier future development. In a portrait, it is vital that the final result and the model are very alike.

The texture of the skin, its carnations and the reflections of light on the face are learned with continuous practice, in which the possibility of copying famous artists should not be ruled out. If, more- over, as shown in this face the model is available, and the steps which the artist followed, it is guaranteed that you will learn. The model chosen is an aged old woman portrayed against the light. Her face, her features, the skin texture and the way light falls on the model make this a perfect example for this exercise.

Highlights and shadows

 On the forehead, a brush stroke of very transparent burnt umber gives a more realistic look to the skin texture  


The highlights of the skin depends on its tension and the amount of light that falls on it. Some areas tend to shine more than others, above all the skin is smooth or slightly greasy, like on the nose or forehead. The highlight of the skin have to be reserved from the start so that the dark areas can be put in once the first layers are dry. With the first colour intervention, the light and shadow tones can be established in a luminous way.

Increasing the shadows of one area of the face produces a contrast with the adjacent lighter areas. To balance the luminosity of the skin, a strong contrast is painted with burnt umber. Watering this colour slightly, the shadow of the nose is gently darkened. Its highlights appear more luminous. On the forehead, a brush stroke of very transparent burnt umber gives a more realistic look to the skin texture.

The first step requires that the water colourist makes a great effort to do the drawing well. In this exercise a simple outline is not enough. It is advisable to take the drawing further so that when colour is applied it is integrated into a perfectly defined structure. The features must be sharply defined and the light zones and main wrinkles schematized with neat lines. The Face of the old woman is a line and wash.

I have allowed the background to dry completely and paint on it with dark shades. The right side of the background is darkened with dark gray wash, to give a contrast on the white hair. At the same time on the left, the hair shown dark to give an effect of a middle aged look.

The wrinkles of the forehead are depicted with clear lines along with the wrinkles of the chin. The dark shadows of the skin are intensified with burnt umber. The shadow of the lips are darkened. In this way the volume of the face is accentuated. The ears are painted and it is defined by its own shadow. Very watery sienna completes the lower chin. The principal highlights have been reserved since the beginning of the portrait.

Texture of the skin

The painting of the skin is an advanced value related study. The colour of the skin, is one of the most complicated challenges in water colour. The chromatic composition of the skin is obtained with different colour, tones and reflections. In contrast, when the skin becomes older, its texture no longer reflects light uniformly but does so intensifying the texture and the shadows cast by the wrinkles over the feature of the face.

The very clear tones can be painted by dragging the colours over the dry background, cutting out the highlights. The texture of the skin can be done by blending two tones of different colours.

This blending must be minimal and very controlled. Besides being able to represent the texture of a skin it is important to master the skin tones of any figure to give a correct texture.