Portrait 19 – How To Ruin A Painting

I would like to share how to ruin a painting with you. I’m really good at it so I feel qualified on giving this course.

STEP ONE : Sketch: Find really good reference material. Here I have laid out a great photo from the latest Esquire magazine. I have a sketchbook dedicated to portraits that I draw with out any assistance (by that I mean, no projector, graphite paper, etc.) I also have my Charles Reid book “The Natural Way To Paint” on hand for some guidance. He’s one of my favorite artists/illustrators but he makes it seems so easy when it’s the complete opposite. To most, it might look like watercolor slopped on paper but anyone trying to mimic his washes or anything he does in general knows much different. Anyway, I got a decent drawing of the person. Maybe not the best, but it’s late and I’m happy with it in the sketch book.

STEP TWO: Begin: I’ve got my drawing. The music is on and I’m in the zone. I’m good with the final pencil drawing. I’m not the best drawer when it comes to realism so this is working for me. I start to apply my paint.

STEP THREE: Ruin the painting Now here’s where I ruin almost all of my watercolor paintings. I am awful with color. Awful. But the bigger problem is (and point of the story) that I have NO patience. Especially at night. I don’t own a hair dryer (illustration sin, I know, but my heat gun is at my studio) so waiting for watercolor to dry just isn’t happening so out of boredom I keep piling on the washes until it turns into a muddy mess. If the colors DID work (which they didn’t from the start) it would still look like a brown/gray blob. So here’s the key to starting a painting with the right foot. Have patience. For my next painting, whether it’s a sketch book or real, I’m giving myself time and a useful tool (hair dryer / heat gun). Patience might be a better skill than having drawing ability. In my case, it most definitely is.

Looking at the finished piece (still wet, got bored so I took the picture) it’s not as bad as I thought it would come out but the point remains. Patience is a virtue.

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