Portrait of Mistress Kelle Martina

This was a commission to paint a portrait of
Mistress Kelle Martina

A3 size colour watercolour.


An initial sketch was made on rough paper then scanned into the computer . I prefer to sketch things out on paper-it is also possible to sketch on the computer using drawing software ( Corel Painter ), but I find I can get better results the conventional way.


On the scanned drawing I experiment digitally with colours and tonal balance. Digital is best here for colour roughs as you can change it so easily. This is printed out and the line-work is transferred down on to thick watercolour paper-(for the geeks this is 300gsm Saunders Waterford HP).
Everything is worked out except fine details before the artwork is started. Trying to draw straight on to the paper without planning is asking for trouble.


First lines lightly sketched using diluted black paint. Just as a guide. It will be strengthened later . To the left a sheet of photo references is always to hand.


Now areas of tone start to be blocked in. This need not be too fine as they are going so dark anyway any imperfections can be covered.


More blocking in. The colouring is gradually built up.


At this stage you begin to start balancing all the tones out. I feel that the subject should be glowing so she is the lightest part of the picture. Everything else is dark in comparison to her. This lightness is of course the whiteness of the paper coming through, the unique property of watercolour. Painting white onto watercolour paint is occasionally necessary but is to be avoided as much as possible.


Then you can allow yourself the luxury of cleaning up the details. My basic principle is to work from general to detail. Never to get bogged down in one part at the expense of others. It is very tempting to work up the “interesting bits”- face, etc. and then get depressed looking at all the unpainted background. I feel the best approach is to bring up all the picture together stage by stage.


















The finished painting.

Now framed and hanging in Ms Martina’s chambers.

See also Snake portraits

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