Saint Nick?

St. Nick

St. Nick

Well, no. I am sure he is not, because he is an exercise from Charles Reid’s book Watercolor Solutions. But he definitely makes me think of St. Nicolas. Must be the beard. I am obsessed with white beards these days because a salt-and-pepper beard from a graphite portrait I am working on is eluding me.

What is astonishing about this sketch is the fact that I painted him in one hour. Including the drawing. Perhaps I do have a little predisposition for portrait after all – an amazing thought! Which is not a thing to say about my painting of water (not shown here because it turned out a disaster.) Or perhaps it is Charles Reid’s technique – 3 super-saturated colors, wet-on-dry, almost dry brush but not quite, no waiting and no smoothing of edges, stop before you think you are finished.

I used my new Escoda 1212 Tajmir Kolinsky brushes, a Hanukkah gift from my parents. Even though I am an adult of respectable age, my dear parents still give me Hanukkah gifts – how wonderful! Well, I painted with them for the first time, and I am here to say: Escoda Kolinsky are a pure bliss!

5” x 6” (13 x 16 cm) on Cotman Watercolor pad, Cotman pan colors.


14 thoughts on “Saint Nick?

  1. Beautiful portrait, Alex. I know this one because I have that book. I am not surprised you were unhappy with your water paintings. I just finished those seascape paintings and found that I had to really stretch into the world of abstract to begin to render the sky and water half-way believable. Charles Reid has a quick and spontaneous approach to applying pigment and using brush and water. Opposite of your attempts at realism. I am impressed that you did this in an hour. I can’t do much of anything in an hour….too much slow mid-tempo-don’t -rush-me attitude goes on here. I can do blind line and continuous line in much less than an hour and often take time to study my subject material that way. I like the blueish-green in the white hair. I like the brushstrokes on his face and modeling you did there to shape it.

    • Thank you so much, Leslie! It is a great book, I like how he explains things – I get it :D. I know he is fast and loose (tee-hee!), but I figured if I get portraiture the loose way and just learn structures and color mixes, I can tighten it to my liking later. Tightening things up is not an issue for me. I didn’t do the blind line, I gridded it. Blind line is a whole other animal. In due time… I think I will paint more portraits and figures from this book. My St. Nick did come out a little bug-eyed through.

      Your seascapes are beautiful. Do you know a book or a tutorial on painting water that you can recommend?

        • There are indeed sections on water painting in many landscape books. I have MacKinzie’s Essential Notebook Landscapes, but don’t like his end result, I see no reason to study a technique if the result is not satisfactory – right? I also have Claudia Nice’s landscapes, and like it better, but her explanations are a bit short. I really like Joe Francis Dowden’s website and books you recommended. If I learn to paint water like that I will be really happy. I put a hold on two of his books from a library – Essential Handbook and Painting Water. Thank you for introducing me to his work, I did not know of him before.

  2. this is really cool. im impressed at the contrast between the ‘white’ beard and the white paper. it reminds me of ‘girl with the pearl earring’ where vermeer is explaining to griet how white clouds really arent white at all.

    • Wow, Shelly, putting Vermeer and my painting in the same sentence is quite amazing! I am so happy it even occurred to you – Vermeer! – in association with my sketch. I am also very pleased you liked my Saint Nick.

    • I love my parents. It was a Hanukkah present from them. It is wonderful how much water and pigment a small #4 can hold. They snap to a pointy end and hold it, and I used them almost like a pencil that way. I had reasonable brushes before, Winsor&Newton Sceptre Gold series, very nice beginner brushes, but there’s no comparison. The problem now is that I hesitate to use the sable brushes to pick pigments from their pans, don’t want to rub and wear out their points. I will have to get tube pigments soon…

  3. great job on the charles reid watercolor portrait. i like his paintings, but am intimidated with the way he works. a friend gave me a DVD of him and he was slopping that paint all over the place, including his shirt! but the end results are great.

    NICE Hanukkah gift from your parents….since there were 7 more nights of gifts, I hope they followed up with some arches paper, winsor-newton watercolors, a john pike palette…..well, you get the idea.

    • Carol! You are feeling better – venturing to read people’s blogs! I am so glad!

      Which Charles Reid’s DVD do you have? I know he is fantastically sloppy with his paints, there are splotches and mess all over his book too. I never worked with a DVD painting demo. Do you find it useful?

      As to 8 nights of Hanukkah… There are 6 brushes and a nice wooden box! Ha-ha-ha! I count my blessings…

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