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Watercolor Portraits with Pam McClaughlin

This was a 2 day workshop in Arvada, Colorado.

Day One

Start with a grid drawing and add the shapes in values of light to dark. Ask yourself, "what shape is it?"

Circle, rectangle, square, etc...

Supplies: Were provided by Pam.

Brushes 1" flat, #8 round and #1 round

Paints: American Journey, DiVinci, and Daniel Smith

Colors: Cad Yellow Medium (cool), Yellow Gamboge (warm), Cad Red Medium (warm), Alizarin (cool), Cerulean (cool), Ultramarine Blue (warm), Burnt Sienna and Sap green

Paper: Arches 140 lb. cold press

Eye Demo:

She lightly erases the drawing with the kneaded eraser.

Skin tone: Burnt Sienna, Alizarin and cool yellow

Stage One: With #8 brush paint a wash of skin tone around the eye, clean the brush then lift the lighter parts on the face and let dry.

Stage Two: Using just Burnt Sienna wash, paint darker areas, clean brush and soften edges.

Stage Three: Make a purple with Cerulean and Alizarin. Use pure Alizarin (very watery) for pink areas, and the purple combo for the darker areas. If you want it to blend, use a very light glaze over all and that will become your mother color.

Eyes: Iris- If you think the color is there, put it in. Get your colors ready. Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue is your grey or black. Put in a light blue first radiating it around the pupil and painting around the highlight. Soften edges. Add a little pink in iris. Blow dry. Put a grey outline around the iris. Use the B. Sienna and U. Blue for your pupil. Dot around the pupil first, then fill in. Use a watered down skin tone color to paint in the corner of the eye then blend it towards the iris. Put a tad of purple in the corners to make it recede.

Eyebrows and eyelashes; Paint in the direction of the hair.

Day Two

Lips: Corner of the lips are in line with the pupil of the eye.

1) Put skin tone over everything then lift out the highlight out on lower lip

2) Go darker around corners, in philtrum (valley under nose), side top and side bottom of lip.

3) Start where the lips meet and make the striations come down on the lower lip. Soften edges.

4) Apply purple mixture of Alizarin and U. Blue. Have some brown ready and an orangey red (Cad Red and a touch of Burnt Sienna). Apply where lips meet. Then apply purple in corners. Try and avoid making a solid line

Hair: For soft whisps of hair, Pam uses Winsor Newton Incredible Nib Masking Fluid and dental sticks.

Start with lightest skin tones in hair (Cad Yellow Med and Cad Red Med with a tad of B. Sienna). Paint darker shades of hair, clean brush then blend to the highlight of the face.


Blush: Use Alizarin for cheeks, chin, top of forehead and put some in the hair.

When dry, you can wash over entire hair and face to unify.


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