I have been working on a series of watercolor sketches, using a collection of family photos as my references. These photos go back to the mid-1860s. My third great-grandmother sat for this portrait in about 1865, along with her husband and four of her five surviving children. I thought it would be interesting to render these images in watercolor... I'll post my progress in stages. My first step was to lightly outline in pencil the details of her face, hands, and dress in order to get the proportions as correct as possible. The palette is a limited one -- mostly Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue, and Permanent Rose. My brushes are #4 and #6 pointed round, and the paper is #140 Lanaquarelle cold press.
A watercolor workshop in Zoom format may seem like something to avoid -- but actually is a great way to remain engaged in the creative process during this time of social distancing and isolation -- an opportunity to be in contact (at least virtually) with other artists. I began a six-session intensive workshop yesterday at 9:30 a.m. It's offered through the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable, and it kept me literally on my feet for three hours.
Our instructor is well-known Cape Cod watercolor artist, Robert Mesrop, who offers a good combination of friendly, laid-back encouragement and helpful, real-time demonstration with excellent pointers. He generously gave all participants in the workshop the same reference photo to work from. (I "flipped" my copy of this photo horizontally so that the barn faced in the opposite direction from the original -- my contrary nature is always on alert...).
Here are some step-by-step photos of my working process... with the final painting at the bottom.
Step one. This photo was taken around 11:00 a.m., after I spent about 20 minutes on a drawing (I started over on a fresh sheet of paper after I dropped a brush loaded with Alizarin Crimson early in the first-wash process... grrrrrr...).
Step two. It was 11:51 a.m. when I snapped this image with my iPhone. At this point I had spent most of my time working on the background trees.
Step three. About 40 minutes later, I had added the foreground trees and "branchy" details in the foreground.
Step four. After adding a few more foreground details and tweaking the barn colors," I signed the sketch. At this point it was almost 12:30 p.m. -- time to call it a day and call it a finished painting: