From Jan Kunz, watercolor artist:
Watercolor is unpredictable, a unique medium that lends itself to all kinds of interesting effects-trying to capture an accurate likeness can be a frustrating experience. But just because watercolor must look fresh and spontaneous doesn't mean you can't approach it with a great deal of thought and care. Here is detailed step-by-step instruction to painting one of the most appealing and challenging subjects in watercolor—accurate, lively and brilliantly colorful portraits.
Drawing on her experience as a commercial artist and teacher of watercolor portraiture, Jan Kunz, watercolor artist, provides you with useful and easily applied lessons in creating successful portraits. Illustrating how the different effects of light can express mood in watercolor and make a painting come alive, she demonstrates a basic fact of outdoor painting, the "40% Rule": every shadow area is a full 40 percent darker than the sunlit side. You will see how lights and darks create the illusion of three dimensions and how you can use the laws of light to render brilliant darks, various skin tones, and the effect of reflected light. Using a value scale to determine the brightness of the sunny side and the darkness of simple shadow forms, you will learn how to portray your subjects as if they were basking in the glow of warm sunlight—the key to painting radiant portraits. The author provides a solid foundation for your venture into watercolor portraiture. You will examine the forms that compose the basic head, and the simple geometric shapes that make up the facial features and show emotion and character: the shape of eyes and eyelids, how the eyes open and close, general construction of the nose, lips and their relationship to the nose, types of chins, and structure of the ear. A list of dos and don'ts clarifies points to remember when you're placing features.
Jan Kunz, watercolor artist, stresses that painting a portrait is not a mechanical process, but a dynamic interaction between two people. You'll learn the importance of getting to know your subject and the things you must see before you start to paint, in order to capture his or her personality and uniqueness. This is where the author introduces her "stop and think" method, teaching you to make critical decisions before composing a portrait: Do you want just the head or full figure, complete scene or vignette, vertical or horizontal placement? You'll see how she makes several sketches to prepare for the final drawing, showing the development from the basic head to final head, and the process of making a pencil carbon to transfer the drawing to a clean painting surface.
The final stage of watercolor portraiture, painting the model in full color, is demonstrated with two different subjects, an attractive young woman and a happy little boy. Each step is accompanied by an explanation of the colors used and why. Corrective techniques, such as how to soften hard edges, are also illustrated here.
Kunz presents four additional portraits in step-by-step sequence from initial drawing to completion. The book concludes with a portrait gallery, a summary of the painting procedure, and a checklist, providing you with hands-on reference material as well as inspiration to start your own dazzling watercolor portraits.
About the Author
Watercolor artist Jan Kunz received her formal education at the University of California, but her love affair with the visual arts prompted her to seek training in that field with instructors such as Rex Brandt and Lester Bonar. She left a career as a successful commercial artist in 1978 to pursue watercolor painting full time.