Sly - final

I finished my final version of Sly. See the graphite drawing of her and the monochromatic version in the previous posts. This one was done using a limited palette of 4 colors – cadmium red, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue and sepia. My teacher thinks I have a natural aptitude for glazing technique and had me do this portrait by painting about 50 thousand glazes of mostly water.

6″ x 6″ (15 x 15 cm) watercolor on paper


28 thoughts on “Sly III

    • Thank you so much, Ryan! I am so pleased to hear you got a sense of an edge from this. This face on my reference was pretty, even beautiful, but had a bit of disturbing quality to it. The fact that you saw it means that I managed the expression right in my painting! Yes!!!

  1. I’m without words … in a good way! πŸ™‚
    It is very nice!
    Several days i studying the proportions of a portrait.
    I would like to try to draw some portraits me too! πŸ™‚
    Thank you for share it!!

    Enjoy your day!! πŸ˜‰

    • Alina, you are so kind, thank you for your nice comment. Portraiture is an extremely rewarding subject, whatever media you choose to do it. I am looking forward to your portrait work. I am sure it will be beautiful.

  2. The face looks fantastic, very nice touch on the colors, so soft but yet so distinct. i guess all the effort of glazing really helps. Just wanted to know how you actually did the glaze on the face izzit with water only or with some light colors, well just curios cos they looks so nice.

    • Thank you for the compliment, Francis! I was only joking in the post about “mostly water” :D. I actually used very diluted pigments – slightly colored water, and many many applications, layer upon layer upon layer. I alternated red-yellow-blue glazes as local tones required and waited for each glaze to dry completely before applying the next one. I cannot tell you how many layers it took because I didn’t count them, just kept applying more until the color built up to my satisfaction. I masked highlights in the eyes, hair and facial jewelry so I didn’t have to paint around them and worry about them. In the end I removed the masking fluid and touched up the highlights to form them and make them congruent with the rest of the painting.

  3. Best version yet. The nose is still my favorite part but the cheek and eyes are incredibly smooth looking.

    I have no idea how to do watercolor in this sort of style. It is beautiful yet I believe I am closer to Giancarlo than Zonis when it comes to the STYLE of the medium. XD

    • Thanks, Sam! This is that glazing technique I’ve been talking about – in a way it is similar to building graphite layers and smoothing transitions. I like results I can get with that. Giancarlo’s work is amazing, I love his stuff, but can’t paint like that myself. At least not yet. Right now my best inspiration comes from Andrew Wyeth and his Helga paintings. I also dream of Ottorino De Lucchi’s drybrush method.

      Why do you like the nose the most? It is so funny because my father liked the nose in the drawing as well. My teacher likes the bridge of the nose. Another artist friend likes the spot between the eye and the piercing. It is curious how people can like a portion of a face…

      I updated your comment. Personally I get very annoyed when I make a typo or miss a word in my comment and cannot fix it.

      • I’m not sure precisely what it is about the nose… it has a “je ne sais quoi” about it, nicely edged with all sorts of subtle color nuances.

        Personally my favorite part of the human face is the “pit” under the eye – even on young people it tends to have wrinkles and gives the face a lot of its character.

        I enjoyed looking at those artists. Wyeth’s work is immaculate, every single bit of it is enjoyable, even when it’s of subjects I’m not normally crazy about.
        The drybrush art is amazing. Disgustingly good. Ridiculous.

        A couple more artists you might find interesting and may have heard of:

        Stow Wengenroth – lithographer/drybrush artist. All of his work may have been black and white, I’m not sure.

        Anders Zorn – great artist, mostly oil paintings, I think. It’s amazing what he could do with just 3 or 4 colors. When I dabble in oil painting, I unsuccessfully model my palette on his.

        Giancarlo’s art is so strange. It’s like he just throws things together sometimes and it WORKS REALLY WELL. I want to be able to do that. πŸ˜€

        • Thank you for the artists’ names, I didn’t know either one of them before. I wish Giancarlo had a website, it is hard to hunt for his work through the forums. Do you know if Giancarlo is his real name or a screen name?

          Wyeth is a genius, that’s all there is to say. I had the same reaction when I first saw Ottorino De Lucchi’s dry brush work – “Disgustingly good. Ridiculous.” I even got a little depressed thinking that I would not be able to come even close to such beauty. I got over it after a while, told myself to just practice… and keep practicing. I once thought I couldn’t draw and was wrong. Perhaps I am wrong about painting as well.

          Talking about limited palettes, my teacher has me working with 4 pigments: 3 primaries and sepia. I am constantly amazed what can be done with so little. I am especially amazed because a little while ago I spent some money and bought a number of Daniel Smith watercolors, and am now using only 4 of them…

          • I think his full name is “Giancarlo Santopadre”.
            I noticed some of his paintings were signed Santopadre so I put them together and googled it… there are a few things around. I assume its him because the art style is very similar… he can do everything, though.
            I believe he said he used to have a website but didn’t like it and got rid of it.

            It’s quite amazing how quickly one can develop artistic skills. Look at your work from back last summer and compare it to now: the rate you’ve honed your ability is astounding.
            Maybe this is where innate talent comes in. I always thought of talent as kind of the rate one improves at something.

            I don’t know, maybe we have those kind of skills to begin with. I remember a day not all that long ago when I stopped just looking at all the nice art and said, “I can do that.” and did.

            The only problem I’ve had with using just a few watercolors is that I never could mix a certain shade of pink to paint a rhododendron. Otherwise I just love not having to deal with the excess colors.

            • Ah, a last name helps a lot πŸ˜€ – thanks! I had even better luck when I put “Charles Santopadre” in my search, very good links came up. He is a great artist, I wonder why he is not better known…

    • Thank you so much, Ji! For visiting my blog, for liking my work, and nominating me for the award! I am honored and touched. Unfortunately right now I am not able to give this award the time it deserves and nominate other people. Life is frantically busy at the moment, time – at a premium. But I truly appreciate you nominating me.

  4. Beautiful work, Alex – how do you make such seamless watercolors?I couldn’t tell which medium you were using at first. It’s interesting to look at all three versions – her expression varies ever so slightly, but she remains recognizable.

    • Thank you so much, Casey! The seamless image is a result of glazing technique. I paint with primary hues and extremely diluted pigments – they are mostly water, very transparent. I create an optical mix by applying numerous layers – glazes, waiting for each to dry before applying the next one. I am also diligent to wipe my edges for each application with a clean “thirsty” brush. This way I can build value as dark as I want and avoid seams and crusty edges, which I dislike. This technique allows for a great control of a rather elusive medium, but it takes a great deal of time. My teacher says that results like this are only possible in watercolor – the luminosity of optical mixing, but can be discouraging for many because of the time it takes.

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