As you can see from the update, I definitely went with the blue for the shirt. So far everything in this painting is warm and I thought it needed a little cooling down. Now I have a different problem to solve and that is what color to put in the mid ground… it has to be a dark. You may be wondering why. Well with watercolor everything that is in the focal point ( in this case, the face) needs to be surrounded with its opposite value. The face is light and in front of the mid ground so I have to plan to paint that area a dark value. The hair on the other hand is dark, it will be in front of the background and that will have to be light. This will make both of those very important areas stand out and actually strengthen the illusion that he is in front of those areas. The Background must be cooler in color temperature as you go back or I might have used golds… But…Golds can be used in the mid ground as long as the background is either greyed down or cooled. This can easily be accomplished by painting a blue sky or a grey sky.
I don’t usually paint the background as is, usually a photo’s background doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for a good composition for a portrait. In fact most Portrait artists eliminated the background and just use color and value so that the subject is really emphasized. These portraits can be very dramatic!
I started putting in the stand of trees on the right and I’m using cool greys mixed with some reds and browns for the trunks. I started these in a wet in wet manner and will end them with a dry brush technique. I thought I might put in leaves but now I’m having second thoughts. There is a lot going on in this already and I hate to have too many shapes cluttering it up. Perhaps if I only put in big patches of leaves… it might work. I don’t want anything to compete with the subject.
This is why it can take a long time to finish a painting like this because of all the decision making it’s really done as you go along. You can try to have all the things decided before hand…but as you see how things look you should always reevaluate the piece and determine if your initial thoughts for the painting will make it a strong piece or is there something better you can do. Since your the Artist, you have to rely on your knowledge and your intuition. Both of them are important and neither can be discounted. Trust yourself and you’ll come out with something that works and that your proud of.
The cushion under his arm isn’t really showing up the way it really looks because I’m indoors and at night but its actually a bright green ( sap green) I did have to tone it somewhat under his arm so it looked as if it’s in shadow but I incorporated this color to help in the African theme.
I think I’ll finish tomorrow as the background usually goes rather fast. I’m a direct painter when I paint landscapes and this method does not use the tedious layering process that is used in the face.
I will of course I’ll always be reevaluating things and making adjustments. I’ll save the little twinkle in his eye for last. Check back with me for the final installment and if you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them for you.