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How to paint a portrait with watercolor and gouache

Painting portraits with watercolor and gouache by Sandrine Pelissieron ARTiful, painting demos
Painting technique / Step by step demonstrations

How to paint a portrait with watercolor and gouache

  • Mixed media on paper (Watercolor and gouache)
  • Paper: Arches hot press 140 lb, stretched
  • 15 x 22 inches

Step by Step watercolor and gouache portrait painting tutorial : They keep me company

After my drawing is done, I start to apply a first layer of yellow (Da Vinci Ochre). I leave the background as it is for now. Because I am using only a few colors in my layering I focus a lot on edge quality.Yellows are usually layered first because they are generally less transparent than most of the reds and blues.

The second layer is done with 2 reds, Alizarin Crimson (Da Vinci), a pinkish red, and Permanent Red light(Rembrandt), a more orange red. When layering I use most of the time two shades of the same color, one on the cool side, one on the warm side.

Here I am working on the background. I use the watercolor in a much more fluid and less controled way than I would do on the face.

They keep me company, watercolor and gouache on paper

They keep me company, watercolor and gouache on paper

This is the finished painting, I added some blues: the warm Ultramarine(Da Vinci) and the cooler Prussian blue (Da Vinci). At that stage I start some color correction with some tertiary colors (browns, oranges and purple) from my Yarka pan watercolor set. I added some blue on the background as well as a layer of gouache. I left on purpose a tiny edge with the red outlining showing.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Yarka St. Petersburg Professional Watercolor Pans

Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set


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Comments (2)

  1. Susanne

    Great information on using warm and cool reds, among other techniques that you use! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Suzanne!

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