Painting “Just Armed with Love”

Contributed by Daune Sheri, Brooklyn, CT - USA

My technique for watercolor painting uses Ampersand Aquabord, Daniel Smith’s Watercolors, Escoda Versatil Brushes in round, sizes 6, 2, 0, 0/3 and a scalpel blade. A painting can take several weeks to complete, involving many hours and many washes of color painted on a lightly water sprayed surface. Each color is diluted with lots of water so there is only a very slight hue when applied to the clay. This allows me to create depth and tonal change with the slightest gradation of color.

Referencing this photograph for the painting, my palette for skin tone consists of Yellow Ochre, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Sepia and Cerulean Blue. My palette for the dog consists of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Quinacridone Rose and Cerulean Blue. To achieve proper tones, colors are mixed on the palette prior to painting on the clay.









For this step-by-step instruction, I begin with a very light pencil sketch of my subjects being certain all proportions and features are correct before the watercolor process begins. I then thoroughly wet the entire clay board to allow any trapped air bubbles within the clay to escape. Once the board is nearly damp, I’m ready to begin.

In the initial washes of color, I choose to use Yellow Ochre. This color is the underlying glow I’m hoping to offer in the finished painting. I then add a mixture of Yellow Ochre and Permanent Alizarin Crimson as the base for my skin tone.

I work in diluted washes of color allowing each wash to dry before applying the next.

I begin to deepen tonal areas of the subject’s face by continuing to add washes of Yellow Ochre and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, leaving light areas exposed. Choosing Payne’s Grey, I begin to block color in the fabric covering the body starting with the folds of material. I add Quinacridone Rose to the dog’s body to create an underlying blush, as well as a bit of Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna to the head, being mindful of emotion and expression between the subjects.

I continue to layer diluted washes of color with slight tonal changes over and over, allowing each to dry before adding another. Concentrating on bone structure, I add depth with hints of light and dark tones to create the structure of cheek bone, jawline, hands, fingers, ear. To deepen areas of shadow, I add a bit of Cerulean Blue to my mixture of Yellow Ochre and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Adding a base wash of Burnt Sienna, I block in the facial hair. I deepen shadow areas on the dog’s head and body, as well as, begin to add blush shades of Quinacridone Rose to the soft pads of the paws. Always being mindful of emotion and expression between the subjects…

Work on the fabric continues, with an understanding of body movement below. I choose to add skin tones within the fabric to create overall harmony.

I work more diluted washes of color throughout adding Sepia and Van Dyke Brown in darker shadow and detail areas. I decide I would like to bring the dog’s tail up over the arm.

Finally, I work to deepen color and darken shadow areas. Then, using a small damp brush, I push or drag the brush in a certain manner to remove color and pull light detail back to an underlying color below or further to nearly clay color. For fine intricate detail, I use a scalpel blade to carve into the clay adding emphasis to the white facial hair and dog’s whiskers. Always being mindful of emotion and expression between the subjects…

The finished painting is put aside for a day or two to be certain no changes or details need to be added. Once I’m happy with the final painting, I varnish the clay’s surface, if it’s a cradled board, stain the cradle, add hardware and the painting is ready to hang!

> Daune Sheri is available for commission work. To contact her directly go to View more of Daune Sheri's paintings in her Watercolour Addicts' Gallery.