Sunface MSatterfield

This happy little fellow almost leaped off my painting table and I thought you might like to see a little of the “behind the scenes” parts of a painting.

I have a mild fixation on sun and moon faces and themes and tend to doodle them frequently. So, I wondered how one might turn out if I painted it instead. First, I drew the face on my paper freehand with a plain old mechanical pencil with a soft lead. Then, I lightened the drawing a bit and erased some of the outlines.

I chose Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Red, and Indigo Blue for my colors. It’s a variation of the Bright Earth pallet described in Nita Leland’s  book(If you want some insight in to watercolor pigments and how to combine them in attractive color schemes – this is a great book!)

Time to start painting!

I make my first pass loosely with the background color (Indigo) and then go right back with the sunface color (QG and QR). After laying the paint down, it looks like this:

Sunface First Painting MSatterfield


Really, it looks like a hot mess, but this is where painting with watercolor takes faith. The more you fiddle with it and try to make it look “right,” the worse it’s going to be. (See this tomato for an example of overworked paint).

When it’s dried to moist – no shine, but still cool and damp to the touch – I made the second pass where I painted in the smaller shapes like the mouth. Again, the trick is to get away and let the paint do its thing. It still doesn’t look all that impressive yet:

When it’s dried to moist again, I added those spatters that I love so much. They’re not as random as they look and let it dry to bone dry.

Finishing Touches

Finally, I go back to add some details and sharpen up the places that got lost in the painting. I use  artist quality colored pencils (Prismacolor brand) for this part because I like the detail and the sharpness they bring to an otherwise very loose medium. After touching up some key areas and tightening the focal details like the eyes and mouth, he’s ready to shine:

Sunface MSatterfield


Thanks for coming along with this painting. If you enjoyed this little mini-lesson, let me know, I’d love to hear from you.