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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 19 > Portraits in watercolour

Portraits in watercolour

Jake Winkle debunks the myth that watercolour is a difficult medium for portraiture and demonstrates how to paint a self-portrait in his trademark style

BB King, watercolour on Arches 140lb (300gsm) Rough, 121⁄2inx181⁄2 (32x47cm).

In this semi-abstract painting I wanted to capture the essence of the musician as he concentrated on his guitar work

Maasai Woman, watercolour on Arches 140lb (300gsm) Rough, 181⁄2x121⁄2in (47x32cm).

This was a 30-minute painting sketch for a workshop. Restricting the amount of time you have forces you to be selective about what to include in the picture

I’ve heard it said that portraiture, which requires the artist to work into the paint and remodel it in order to capture a good likeness, is better suited to media such as oil, pastel or acrylic. However, creating a likeness doesn’t mean painting every wrinkle or eyelash, or indeed agonising over the exact positioning of features, but instead is more about simplifying the subject into areas of tone with just minimal detail. Painting a watercolour portrait requires a unique skill-set, different to those used in almost every other subject. Not only do I aim to interpret, I want to maintain a good likeness, and this can be daunting because the paint must be applied briskly to achieve the required effect and there are just seconds to study the form during the painting process!

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first issue of 2019 to inspire and inform your artistic development, including all the information you will need to plan your entries to the best open competitions throughout the year in our extensive 5-page guide. We also see the start of two new series, by Ruth Buchanan on how to draw and paint animals with confidence, and Mark David Hatwood on all aspects of marketing and how to make money from your artwork. There are practical articles and demonstrations showing you how to adapt your painting techniques for coloured pencil work, with amazing results, how to paint a self-portrait as well as a stunning faded rose, both in watercolour, and how to make your watercolours more dynamic by using watercolour grounds. Our top artist contributors also share their expertise on best practice for working on the spot, how to plan a complex composition, paint your first realist still life in acrylic, use your sketchbooks to work out your ideas, how to paint successfully from your photos and which colours to mix in oils to achieve a sense of space in your landscapes. With all this and much more, there's plenty to keep you drawing and painting over the festive period. Enjoy!