Portrait of Richard for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5×6 inches

I really tried to focus on two things with this portrait, getting the drawing right and keeping the gouache colors light (gouache dries darker). For once I managed to keep a tilted head tilted in my drawing–for some reason my brain always wants to make everything upright and symmetrical. It doesn’t surprise me since I learned that the image that comes in from our eyes is upside down and it’s our brains that convert it to right-side up. My brain definitely has a mind of its own…oh wait a minute–it is my mind!

Below is the original pencil drawing over which I painted the gouache. I wish I could show you the photo I worked from, but I think those are only meant to be visible to members of Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which you can apply to join on Flickr and play too, if you want to.

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5×6 inches

Painting with Gouache: Color Charts, Zorn Palette, Brush Tests

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10x8 inches in A4 Moleskine

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10×8 inches in A4 Moleskine

In trying to learn more about gouache I made a few color charts. I’m using mostly M. Graham gouache which I like much better than the Winsor & Newton and Schmincke I used before. The Graham gouache is creamy and brilliant, rewets well and doesn’t smell (like the W&N). I found that using fresh-squeezed gouache is more fun to work with than rewetting dried paint, but frugality keeps me trying to reuse dried. The best solution is to set up a palette for each session, squeezing out tiny blobs, adding more as needed.

Above is an exploration of the Zorn palette in gouache, a limited palette using only Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, White, and Black. The black paint, when mixed with white, is meant to serve as blue since it is a cool color that can look blue next to warm colors. Next I want to try using it in an actual painting.

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10x4 inches

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10×4 inches

Above is a chart of my gouache colors straight from the tube and mixed with white and each other. Sadly when I removed the masking tape it pulled off some of the paper from the extra large Moleskine watercolor notebook that is my current journal. I don’t recall previous Moleskine WC notebooks having that problem but I’ve switched to low-tack tape now.

Before ordering any new brushes specifically for gouache I wanted to see how the brushes I already had might work so did the test below. I found a few that I liked and ordered a couple of others. I’ll do another post about my gouache palette and brushes I’ve settled on soon.

Old brushes-testing for gouache

Old brushes-testing for gouache

Portrait of Stuart for JKPP

JKPP Gouache sketch of Stuart, gouache, 8x10 inches

JKPP Gouache sketch of Stuart, gouache, 8×10 inches

I sketched Stuart (from the Julia Kay Portrait Party) and painted him in gouache. I’m still struggling with mixing colors to dry light enough. In this sketch I started by painting the light on the side of his face and leaving it alone. That seems to be a good way to proceed since painting light over dark doesn’t work seem to work that well for me. I’m so enjoying painting and drawing people. I got too many layers of paint on his hand and arm so I gave up trying to get it right. I know the hand looks like a slab of mystery meat with no bones in it but oh well. It’s always about getting the drawing right first, which I didn’t do with the hands. I also apparently need to use less pink/red in flesh mixtures to avoid getting this icky pinky-grey color.

Portrait sketch, Stuart, pencil

Initial sketch, Stuart, pencil

Portrait of Kathleen for JKPP and Bonus Azalea

JKPP Gouche sketch of Kathleen, 7.5x5.5 inches

JKPP Gouche sketch of Kathleen, 7.5×5.5 inches

I painted Kathleen (from the Julia Kay Portrait Party) side by side with the flower below but decided to post them as separate images. I’m loving gouache but really struggling with the way light colors turn so much darker when it dries. I actually lightened the sketch above in Photoshop so that it wouldn’t look so scary.

Azalea in Gouache, 7x5 x 5.5 inches

Azalea in Gouache, 7×5 x 5.5 inches

I found this flower (I think it’s an azalea) growing along the sidewalk in the neighborhood and picked off a blossom to paint. The flower is too dark because of my lack of experience with gouache, but I had fun painting it. Gouache is so much fun and I’m especially loving M. Graham Gouache. Now to just learn to mix colors about 4 shades lighter than they look! I mastered doing the opposite with watercolor so I’m (almost) sure I can do it with gouache too.

Julia Kay’s Portrait Party: Portrait in Gouache

Portrait of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye's Portrait Party, gouache in XL WC Moleskine, 9x6.5"

Portrait for Julia Kaye’s Portrait Party, gouache in XL WC Moleskine, 9×6.5″

When I learned that Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (Facebook) (Flickr) was coming to SF in March for a weekend of live portrait party events I signed up. My goal for 2015 is to develop my portrait drawing and painting skills and this seemed a perfect way to get started, along with the excellent 4-hour figure/portrait drawing/painting class I’m taking at my local community college.

Since I’ve been experimenting and teaching myself to paint with  gouache (more about that soon, with reviews of paint and brushes for gouache). I thought it would be a perfect medium for my first Portrait Party attempt. One thing that I know about gouache but am not yet accustomed to, is that it dries significantly darker than it looks on the palette (unlike watercolor which dries lighter). That explains the very vibrant tones in the portrait above compared to the original photo (which I don’t have permission to post here)! Below is the original sketch that I painted over in my X-large Watercolor Moleskine.

Sketch of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye's Portrait Party, graphite, 9x6.5"

Sketch of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye’s Portrait Party, graphite, 9×6.5″

Meet Morton Skullman

Morton Skullman the Man Skull, oil on panel, 12x9"

Morton Skullman the Man Skull study, oil on panel, 12×9″

I painted my skull model, whom I call Mortie Skullman, to kick off my painting for 2015 since my plan for this year is to focus on portraits, mostly of people (but also of dogs of course, my favorite subject). The process I followed for this study was based on the approach David Jon Kassan takes on his online skull painting video, “Premier Coup” (only $1.95 to rent for 1 week). It was fun painting along with him, taking inspiration from the thoughts he shared as he worked.

The process starts by drawing and blocking in with PanPastels using Sofft Tools and then moves on to oil paints. You can paint over PanPastels without need for drying time or fixative and they can be completely erased with any eraser, making them ideal for underpainting.

Below is the setup and most of the painting sessions in progress. Read More

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