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Painting over life drawings with acrylic and watercolor pencils on ARTiful painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier

Painting over Life drawings with Acrylic and Watercolor Pencils

If you are going to a life drawing class, which I recommend you do 🙂 You will probably accumulate a lot of drawings over time. I am going to our weekly life drawing class in North Vancouver.

I am a bit of a slow drawer as I never have time to do much with paint in the classes, I usually end up with a contour drawing with some cross hatching shading.


More Life drawing inspired paintings on my website


So once in a while I like to experiment with ways to rework my life drawings after the class, in the studio, where I can take my time 🙂

Here is one of the techniques I sometimes use. You can watch a video where you see me painting the blue life drawing or you could read the post underneath where I took pictures for the orange life drawing.



The Technique in Pictures

You will need:


A drawing on white paper, some fluid acrylic paint, clear gesso, a few brushes and watercolor pencils. You could also use dry pastels if you wanted to but I find I have more control with watercolor pencils.


This is the drawing I did in class. If you have time try to delimit areas that are light, medium and dark. The paper here is white but the layer of color I am going to paint will be the middle tone.


Because the  first layer of acrylic is going to be your middle tone, you might have to dilute it in a bit of water. You also want to be able to still see your drawing underneath the paint, so it will be easier if that first layer is not too dark.


Using a large flat brush, paint the first layers of fluid acrylic color in big gestural strokes, you want to cover all or most of the figure but could give that first wash any shape you want to.img_4299s

You can also add a few drips here and there if you want to.


Once you are done with that first layer of paint and drips, let your paper dry thoroughly before going to the next step.

Clear gesso is white when wet but will dry clear. When painted over paper it will make it sturdier (especially of your drawing paper is a bit thin) and will also add some tooth that will work great with watercolor crayons and dry pastels.


Paint a thin layer of clear gesso and leave it to dry. You might see brushstrokes but I would not mind it as I think it is adding an extra dimension to the drawing.


The drawing will look like this at this stage.


The you can start using a white watercolor pencil on the highlights



Some colors on the contours.


darker colors on the shade areas.


you can decide to leave the watercolor pencil as is or to go over it with a wet brush.


When using a wet brush over the watercolor pencil, it will make the colors stand out more.


Keep working on your drawing until you are satisfied with the result.


The finished drawing.

More Life drawing inspired paintings on my website


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Aino Shperber December 12, 2016, 11:11 pm

    Hi there, I admire your work so much. Always interesting and inspiring to come to your blog. Thank you for sharing your talent. 🙂

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