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Watercolor portrait painting tutorial with layering technique, watercolor crayons and wax paper cut-out

Watercolor and watercolor crayons on paper

From now on, you can call me Neil Armstrong


Click on image to buy print or Original

Click on image to buy print or Original


This is a portrait of my youngest daughter I painted some time ago. My daughter has a fascination for space exploration and wants to learn as much as she can about that subject, of course she wants to be a cosmonaut!
I like to paint portraits that are telling a story, they are like illustrations of a book that the viewer has to make up. I also wanted that painting to talk about the magic of youth and the feeling that you have so many options possible for your future.

Here are the steps I took to paint this portrait:

drawing on paper and preserving whites

This is my drawing on Arches paper, I did preserve some whites with resist mainly for the eyes and patterns in the background

resist for the white of the eyes

I applied resist on the white of the eyes and for the highlight on the eye, as well as along the face where the light makes the skin appear white.

separating colors by layering with watercolors

I am starting by painting a layer with yellow watercolor ( yellow Ocher and Lemon yellow)

wax paper cut-out

I am cutting out a few shapes in wax paper and will place them on the yellow watercolor layer in the background while the paint is still wet.

background with resist and wax paper cut-out

Here is a close-up of the background with resist and cut-out wax paper shapes. I want the background to be somewhat between a wall paper and a representation of my daughters thoughts.

red, pink and orange layer

Once the yellow layer has dried I paint a layer with different tones of red, aiming for variations that go from orange to more pink tones of red,

Watercolor and watercolor crayons on paper

The last layer is a layer of blue, I am also using different tones of blue, from Ultramarine blue to Prussian blue. I accentuate the blue highlight on the hair, I then work on the background adding more definition to the patterns with watercolor crayons. You can see faint patterns where the wax paper cut-out were placed.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • silvia October 19, 2013, 1:09 am

    wax paper wewre simply put on the watercolor paper or glued?

    • Sandrine Pelissier October 19, 2013, 4:25 am

      Wax paper cut-outs were simply placed on the paper, they stick to it because the paper was still wet.

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