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How to paint a watercolor portrait painting in 20 minutes.
How to paint a watercolor portrait painting in 20 minutes.


Materials used:
View info on brushes
9" x 12" cold-press watercolor block
#2B pencil
paints: Red, Yellow, Blue, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber

Drawing and First Wash

To start this quick watercolor portrait painting, I used a pencil to do a rough drawing outlining the layout and defining the main elements in the painting. Using a pencil to do drawing is not the only an option to starting a portrait painting. This is called an "under drawing" step. When I use a pencil to do the under drawing for my portrait, I will not erase the pencil marks later. The pencil marks will be part of the final artwork, although most of the time, you may not notice them.

For a 20-minute quick watercolor portrait painting exercise, I will spend 5 minutes to observe and direct the positioning of my model and 2 minutes for drawing and sketching. Then I will start the first wash. Usually after the first few minutes, the mental picture of my portrait painting will have become very clear in my mind. I can already see what direction I will pursue.

I used the 1-inch flat brush to do the first wash. I started the background wash with yellow, and used burnt umber for the face. Then I mixed a blue gray color for the dress. As I washed from the top down, I added red color into the mix.

How to paint a watercolor portrait painting in 20 minutes.

Add Tones and Color to Shape the Balance

Then I used the calligraphy brush to do the second layer. This time I started from the hair at the top of the head. I used the same brown color for the shadow areas on the face. This pushed the balance of colors and values to a deeper level. Next, I added the cast-shadow to the left side in the background.

After I had the tones and color balance settled, I further defined the shapes and darker area of the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. With a final adjustment to the color temperatures, this portrait sketch was finished in about 20 minutes.