Here is a little exercise I did today: painting Audrey Hepburn and a floral still life without drawing first. I took a scrap piece of 140lb cold press watercolor paper and sat down at the dining room table with some art magazines, tea, toast and paint.
(NB: all the photos are thumbnails - click for larger versions)
The first thing I did was clear off the mess on the table to make room for me and my stuff.
I flipped open the spring 2009 publication of Watercolor to an article by the very talented Pat Weaver about resolving common problems. Now I have to admit I haven't read the article yet (but I will); however, I was inspired nonetheless by her vibrant still life painting "Floral on Yupo". As many of you know by now, I usually steer away from florals - to be honest I find them intimidating - so I figured this would be a good way to play.
I made a rough 3x4 inch sketch of a vase but didn't draw any flowers, and then just dabbled away with a few colours from my pallette: French ultramarine, Quinacridone Rose, and Cobalt Yellow. I threw in a bit of sap green and quinacridone red at one point, but not much.
It was a good exercise, but not much fun for Christy.
So then I got into some juicy stuff: painting Audrey Hepburn WITHOUT A DRAWING - pretty gutsy huh? I wish I'd videotaped it (or at least taken "in progress" photos) because I actually surprised myself. To keep it simple, I stuck with just one colour, Payne's Grey.
I used the "referencing" technique, where you choose one feature to start with and reference everything else from each subsequent feature. Sort of like connecting dots. In this case, I started with the eye you see on the right, then worked up to the eyebrow, over to the cheekbones (which I later had to expand as they were too close) then up to the second eye, down to the nose (which I did very lightly until after I did the mouth, to be sure I had the placement right). Next I did the mouth and chin. I took a step back and realized the mouth was too high (you can still see a bit of the original wash) so I fixed that too.
The portrait isn't photo-perfect, but I feel it's pretty darn close, and definitely recognizable as Audrey Hepburn. All in all, this was a very good exercise for me and one I recommend to anyone looking to practice their techniques.
Have you tried painting without a preliminary sketch? If so, what did you think?Register on ArtFire.com