How I Do What I Do – Part 2


Ms Alicia Keys. I love her music and the energy and spirit she brings to it. For this piece, I decided to show that spirit by using a watercolor technique I learned ages ago.

The first step, as always, is to do the under drawing. Once I had that in, this time, I chose to do the background first, as I knew that I was going to be working pretty abstractly and didn’t want to put in all this detail work, only to mess it up. I wet the paper, then laid down a wash of Prussian blue and Cobalt blue, allowing the color to fade as I got higher up on the painting. I actually had the paper upside-down for this.


Now comes the technique. I dropped salt into the wet wash, in this case, both table salt and big chunks of sea salt. What this does is repel the pigment, causing these little blooms to appear. No way I would have been able to do this with a brush. To add to the effect, I then sprayed water onto the salted wash and moved the paper around a bit. This is how I got that kind of flowing effect. (For now I’m unable to take photos while actually working, but that may change soon.) Below are pics of the wet and dry result.











After that, I started working on her face, blocking in the colors in thin washes, then slowly building them up, layer by layer.

I find that it’s better to do all the skin tones at once, since I don’t really pre-mix my colors, but make them on the fly. I have found that if I do skin, then outfit or hair, then skin again, I lose homogeneity and my piece starts looking a bit Frankenstein-ish. Because the darker colors are so powerful and more likely to run, I put them in last. These give contrast and really make the facial features pop.





I keep going, adding the details of her jacket and voila! The finished portrait.


As with all my pieces, this one is available in the shop, both as an original and a giclee print. Please stop in again for future works. Thank you for visiting!



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