Sargent Portrait Watercolor Study

First Attempt at Sargent Watercolor Portrait

This portrait watercolor study is from an amazing Sargent painting of Lady Agnew and can be seen at the Scottish National Gallery. Well if you’re ever feeling over confident about your painting abilities try doing a Sargent watercolor portrait study. It definitely cut me down to size. I wasn’t attempting a likeness (and definitely didn’t achieve that) but wanted to see how I could do with the skin tones. All in all not a bad attempt but will definitely need more work before next week.

sargent portrait watercolor study
sargent portrait watercolor study

It’s quite surprising how low chroma a lot of the colors are in this. I had to be very careful to tone everything down a little to get anywhere near the right colors. Even the blue in the background has quite a lot of black in it. And the folds in the dress are a *very* low chroma purple which is almost indistinguishable from gray when it’s on the palette.

Second Attempt at Lady Agnew Portrait copy

Lady Agnew Watercolor Portrait Study
Lady Agnew Watercolor Portrait Study

Trying again with this Lady Agnew Sargent watercolor study. Smaller this time which may have been a bad idea as I had to break out the smaller brushes. Better take on the face shape but still a way to go. The likeness is still nowhere near of course but, at least, this one does look like an actual human being. I got more form into the eye socket area and more contrast where it needed it. In both paintings I rather liked the hair. Nice and dark but with subtle value changes to show the sheen of the waves.

Next Steps

My final goal with these studies is to do an oil master copy at a much larger size. As it stands I need to do some more work before attempting this. The main thing is to get more of a likeness and for that I’ll need to brush up on my face drawing. Some careful pencil studies will likely be the order of the day.

Loomis Watercolor Sketch

I’ve been rooting around for something that really tickles my fancy to get me back into painting again. One of my Christmas presents was Andrew Loomis’ Creative Illustration book which has a lot of top notch painting advice and I highly recommend. One of his example paintings is of the lovely lady above and, as I haven’t done much figure work recently, I thought I’d have a go.

She’s done entirely in a combination of ultramarine and burnt sienna. I wanted to try and combine the granularity and washiness of the watercolor with the subtle range of tones in the flesh and face. Pretty happy with the result although the facial likeness to the original is not that close.

Here are some intermediates:


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Started off with a rough pencil drawing and a fairly light wash to put in the main areas of light and dark. I was careful to not leave hard edges where they would draw attention to themselves but also lose edges where the values were similar.


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Next I went in with some darks to define the arms and shoulders and the hair around the face. I put some detail in the face but was careful to keep the values light.


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Next was putting some detail in the dress, defining some of the folds but leaving other areas quite in distinct. Some subtle shading for the hands but kept them with low value contrast so they don’t detract from the face. The face went in next and was almost a disaster as I was working quite small here.


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The final thing and managed to stop before I ruined it. A little more definition in the face and some more interest in the background to frame the face. A little more detail in the hands and a few tweaks to the dress more to aid the composition than anything. Phew!

Nighttime People Doodling

People sketches on ipad
people sketches on ipad

Noodling on the ipad last night I tested drawing some people from imagination. Tricky but quite satisfying.