Friday, March 8, 2019

Frances, ca. 1901

Frances Adelaide Hamilton, ca. 1901
 Step 1

Stories about long-ago family members can be frustratingly incomplete.
  Step 2

This is the case with Frances Adelaide Hamilton, born in Sturbridge in 1899. Frances was my first cousin three times removed (which means she was three generations back from me.) Married at age 25, she died in 1927 a few months after the birth of her only child. Judging by the many photos taken as she grew up, I suspect she was the much-loved baby of her family. My favorite one of Frances was taken in 1901, when she was about two years old. It seemed perfect reference image for a watercolor sketch.

I began working free-hand with a #12 pointed round brush and a very thin wash of Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna. I blocked in the background and added a few shadow details. Once this dried, I used successive layers of wash, occasionally using a darker wash for emphasis. I have found that multiple layers of thin, pale washes are most effective when rendering vintage portrait sketches.

I added facial details with a #3 pointed round brush and a wash of Burnt Umber and Permanent Rose. Using that same brush and a dark mix of Burnt Umber, I added more details to show her softly curly hair, and to heighten the shadow contrasts. Finally, I touched the eyes with Manganese Blue.

"Frances, ca. 1901"
7.5" x 10"  transparent watercolor
available at my Daily Paintworks gallery 

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