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Thursday, June 1, 2017



Penny started the evening by showing portraits that she had painted of familiar faces such as David Bowie, Hugh Laurie and Judie Dench. All were painted using photographs as a reference being careful not to infringe copyright. If the painting is to be used commercially eg for cards she gets permission from the photographer. Sometimes - especially when teaching groups - she looks at the work of other artists e.g. Modigliani and produces a portrait in their style.

The paints she uses are Old Holbein  in tubes which are then squeezed into pans. These paints remain tacky and are therefore easy to use. Her brushes are Isabey Kolinsky Sable watercolour brushes and the paper she prefers is Fabriano Artistico Rough or else Arches which is stretched on a board.     

To start the painting she first uses Photoshop to manipulate several photographs to get her final reference image. This is then drawn onto the watercolour paper. Before putting on any paint she identifies white or the lightest areas and makes sure these are left when the first wash is put in. This is usually a watery mix of eg Raw Umber then Perylene Maroon. Other colours such as Cobalt Blue and Permanent Rose give modelling to the face. The eyes are very carefully worked with a dot of white gouache for highlights and grey and pink for the whites. The colour of the iris is always checked very carefully and the pupil painted with a mixture of Payne's Grey and Sepia.  Penny always works from  light to dark using dilute washes so that the density of colour gradually reaches it's final level. Final stages include hair which is painted very loosely and the lips. She never uses red for the lips of men and treats them just as a different contour of the face not as a separate entity.  The background, although worked out before commencing the painting, is added at the end.

This was a very interesting evening when a portrait was painted in watercolour - a medium which most of us wouldn't consider using. Perhaps after Penny's inspiring demonstration we will all consider trying it for ourselves.


Penny and portrait

Nearly finished

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