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Watercolor and gouache step by step Portrait Painting Tutorial: Helene

Layering watercolor to paint portraits on ARTiful, painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier
Painting technique / Step by step demonstrations

Watercolor and gouache step by step Portrait Painting Tutorial: Helene

Those who know our family will recognize (I hope!), my mother in law in this portrait.

The challenge in this portrait was the picture I was working from, I liked very much the picture but it had a very bad resolution. I tried to use this drawback as an opportunity to loosen up my style a little bit. I had no real definition of the eyes for example, so they are more a suggestion than a really define area, which is nice .

Watercolor and gouache step by step  Portrait Tutorial: Helene

Here are a few pictures of the painting in progress with my usual layering technique. I used some gouache mixed with Prussian blue watercolor in the background.

watercolor portrait painting technique : layering colors

I am starting with a layer of yellow Ocher. Yellow is usually the less transparent color in your palette so it makes sense to have it as the first layer.

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.

 

Da Vinci Artists’ Permanent Watercolors, 292 Yellow Ochre, 15 ml

Da Vinci paints are exciting, intense, and rated among the best in the world for quality. The paints are permanent, with the highest tinting strength and pigment concentration available, and a creamy consistency for smooth, easy dispersion with water.

watercolor portrait painting technique : layering colors

The I start applying a layer of red, using a very light hand.

You might also be interested in: Tutorial : Corel Paint Shop Pro for layering watercolors

watercolor portrait painting technique : layering colors

This is my painting after I finished painting the red layer.

watercolor step by step

Here I am applying the first yellow layer on the background.

watercolor step by step

Then a layer of red on the background.

watercolor step by step

Next I am applying a layer of blue on the figure, with a very light hand as blue is an intense color and could very easily over power the other colors.

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.

Holbein Acryla Gouache, 152 Chinese White, 20 ml

Acryla Designer Gouache is a fast-drying, opaque acrylic based watercolor paint. It’s water soluble while wet, and water-resistant, matte and opaque, even over dark surfaces. Great for grounds and layering.

watercolor painting tutorials

Next, I am working on the background with a mix of watercolor and gouache. I am also adjusting the colors until I am satisfied with the result.

Portrait of Helene : Watercolors and gouache

The finished painting: Helene (watercolor and gouache)

5/5 - (1 vote)

Comments (10)

  1. David Aguayo Sr

    Hi Sandrine, Love your work. What paper did you use on this one of your Mother in Law? I like your layering effects very much.

    1. Thanks David !
      For this watercolor and most of my recent works I am using Arches Hot press 140 lb I wet and stretch it before painting.

  2. Sigrid Saradunn

    Thank you for sharing the process of the painting of your mother in law. It is interesting to see how you layer the colors and with great effect.

    1. Thanks Sigrid 🙂

  3. I like the softness you achieved in this Sandrine. A Lot! The light over the right shoulder is wonderful. Your Mother-in-law must be pleased with this. Just lovely. Thank-you for showing your layers of work.

    1. Thanks Leslie !
      Yes she liked it. I am always a little bit nervous to show the model of the portrait the painting because I guess we look at different things, but she was very positive 🙂

  4. Your figure seems to glow. Thank you for the information. Sharing this is very valuable to everyone who reads it.

    1. Thanks Linda :-), I guess it’s the layering that is making the colors more intense.

  5. Lovely!

    1. Thanks Yevgenia!

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