My cousin wed in December 2018. As an extremely late wedding gift, I wanted to paint a portrait of her small family.

During the process, I took photos to keep track the variations and the behind-the-scenes work. I hope you enjoy all of the work leading up to the final product!

Draft #1

I painted this version around March of 2018. I had just purchased gouache and I wanted to experiment with opacity, which is why I painted the green leaves on top of the watercolor blue backdrop. The paper in this particular notebook isn’t great for watercolor, so I couldn’t layer many colors which explains the lack of depth in both faces.

Draft #2

After 8 months of a consistent art practice, I decided to revisit this project because I thought I could do it justice. No warming up, no initial sketches, I just jumped right in thinking “I’ll make it work.” Nope! I made tons of silly mistakes.Odd shaped heads, insecure ink lines, weird noses. Ugh. I also realized that this paper was a terrible choice. It didn’t absorb the water well which created a spotchy skin texture. All around ew.

Draft #3

I bit the bullet and purchased proper watercolor paper that cost $17 :’-(. It made a world of difference. In my zeal for completing the project, I painted the background and forgot to leave white space for the humans. Oh, folly!

Draft #4

I took a deep breathe and told myself “no more silly mistakes. You gotta practice.” I started this version with the intention of mistakes and practice. I used a graphite pencil to sketch their bodies, then I inked them. After that, I painted the background so I wouldn’t make the mistake from draft #3. I also used this version to experiment with their flesh color to make sure it was perfect.

Final Version Progress

Using the mistakes from the past as my inspiration, I took my time with the final version. I sketched their bodies using a graphite pencil. I slowly layered paint on their skin to make sure I achieved the correct complexion.

Almost done

Content with the painting, I placed it in the frame expecting to be done. Dun Dun Dun! It’s uneven!!

I left too much space under the date, and the entire piece felt like it was too much on the left. I walked away extremely, extremely annoyed and disappointed with myself.

Finishing Touches

Oh, the magic of a good night’s rest. I woke up ready to tackle this asymmetrical problem with flowers! Though I was extremely aggravated with myself for the incorrect measuring, I think it was a blessing in disguise. I think the floral accents added a needed touch of color and sweetness.