Portrait of MzFee


MzFee is here depicted a very wealthy mistress seen reclining on a bed in her island palace, where money and treasure are brought to her from afar.


First a general composition is worked out in tones – though the final artwork is to be in colour, black-and-white tone helps to establish the balance of the elements. It helps to keep the eye freely ‘circulating’ – from the main subject to secondary details and back again. If the eye gets stuck in a corner and has to make an effort to come back in, the composition has failed.  mzfee_r3

A line rough soon follows. I had reference of Mz Fee’s face but needed to make up the rest of her body and the male figures. Any artist familiar with artistic anatomy should be able to construct without photo reference but it’s always better to have it of course.
The slave to the left has now changed position as MzFee is enlarged and the treasure-carrying slaves reduced in emphasis.

The line rough is transferred to stretched watercolour paper (300gsm Saunders Waterford) and first tentative pencil lines are introduced.

I usually want to make sure the face is completed first, as if it isn’t the entire painting might be wasted. This runs counter however to my general policy of bringing up all parts at once.



Once the main figure is more or less complete I can bring up the background and the secondary figures.

mzfee9Gradually details are added and attention is paid to colour balance – the human flesh and gold/brown of the bed contrasting with the light from the window and deep blue of the sky. So then it is a process of building it all up and deepening the intensity.
I’ve said before that because watercolour painting allows for so little changes, planning is absolutely essential. Just hoping for the best rarely works!

Learn more about Sardax portraiture and commissioning  here

Please remember if you are commissioning for a birthday to leave a few months as there is usually a waiting list for commissioned artwork.

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