I am so pleased with what I accomplished today in my watercolor practice. I just have to share it. It’s not much, really, but for me, it was a huge step forward. I painted figures. Yes, like in people. Real people. Well, all right, not real people, but painted ones who give the illusion of being real.
Watercolor artist John Lovett says:
Placing figures in a painting often adds life and interest that can make the difference between an ordinary painting and a good one. The subject of a painting can change with the inclusion of figures. Emphasis shifts from the surroundings to the activity in which the figures are involved.
Recently I tried adding a figure to a drawing. The results were not good. I did everything wrong. I used a circle for the head, added a circular body, gave the poor fellow two legs, and a pair of feet. Typical beginner’s mistakes, I’ve since learned.
Today, I practiced figures again, and… I did it! Now, I don’t profess that these are the greatest figures ever painted, but I can say with certainty that they’re the best ones I’ve ever done.
Here’s how they looked at first. You’ll notice I did three, each one a little larger than before. I wanted to practice with different sizes. Here they are in their naked version.
Once I had the forms painted — and the paint was dry — I was able to clothe them in simple attire. A sweater, a pair of trousers.
Each fellow got hair, too. And, once dressed up, they looked pretty good!
Not perfect, but pretty good, if I do say so myself!
Here’s what I learned:
The head should be an oval shape, not round.
For the upper body, paint another, larger oval. Create just a suggestion of arms.
Paint the legs — together — in a long, tapered shape.
Once the figures are dry, add hair. The way you place the hair will determine the direction of the figure.
For clothes, paint the upper shape, and allow it to dry. Then use a natural gray to separate the arms. Use the gray to also create a shadow on one shoulder. You can blend the gray with a damp brush.
Paint the pants, creating a slight “open” area at the lower legs to give the illusion of walking. Add shadow to the pant legs.
Finish the figures off by adding a bit of cast shadow.
So there you have it! I can now paint figures. But what about two or more together? What about groups of figures? That’s coming up next in my watercolor practice, so wish me well!
Update: I did my first “group” figure painting. I notice that a lot of my figures tend to lean to the left. I hope nobody falls over.
I’ll keep practicing. I’ll get better.