Sketchbook Sunday: Monochrome Portrait in Watercolor

Hi friends!  It’s time for Sketchbook Sunday where I share the projects I am working on to grow my skill as an artist. Last week I mentioned that I was taking a class on painting figures in watercolor which required me to work from my own photos. During class last week our instructor has us draw a picture on a large sheet of transparent Mylar. I found a photo I had taken of my daughter sitting on a rock in a stream looking at her phone. She had climbed out there to take some pictures and she didn’t notice me snap a candid shot. I really loved the unposed causal feel of the photo.


The instructor has us draw it on Mylar because he is going to have us paint it 2 more times, once using the “Zorn palette” of cadmium red, yellow ochre, lamp black, Ultramarine blue and Chinese white, and then again with a vibrant palette which he has not specified to us yet. I am currently working on the version with the Zorn Palette and I will share a photo of the finished work next weekend. I am really enjoying this class because it is pushing me to do exercises I normally wouldn’t think to try nor would I be likely to paint the same thing 3 times LOL!  Watch the video to see the process!


I have received some surprised reactions from people when I tell them I am taking a class. “Why are you taking a class, you can already draw and paint?” is the general comment but let me tell you no matter where you are in your journey you should always strive to improve. It is being in that “atmosphere of growth”, as Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project puts it to stave off burnout and feel fulfilled and happy. Today’s project was not quick and easy, it was long and hard and in order to have a fulfilling career or even hobby we need to stretch ourselves a bit and push our skill to new levels.  For me that means paying good money to learn something new and having someone to hold me accountable. You can know the techniques in theory but until you go through the process and commit to doing them you will not completely understand the subject. I am unlikely to paint the same picture 3 times without having an instructor assign it, I am also unlikely to use the limited palette of Anders Zorn (which I learned didn’t even include Ultramarine Blue until his later years-Black, white yellow ocher and a warm red, can you imagine?!?) so trying the lesson another artists finds essential is very mind opening. I doubt black and white will be a permanent fixture in my palette but who cares? Be humble enough to let someone teach you something.


Do you want to learn something new? I believe that drawing is the foundation to all forms of art and I have a course on beginner drawing that does go over portraits as well as still life, landscape and warm up exercises so you can learn to draw what you see. If you want help learning to draw please check out my course Learn to Draw with Lindsay and I would be humbled and honored to help you along in your artistic journey. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

8 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh! Your daughter is so grown up!! You have done a beautiful work so far. I love your words about continuing ones education. I agree. We must keep stretching ourselves. You are so awesome. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us.


  2. What a nicely composed shot. You sure that this was a candid? And I can’t wait to see the finished project, right now the sketch is amazing.

    As for taking classes, I’m no expert on anything, but when I can I do enjoy taking classes that interest me. Even if it’s a topic you already know, you learn new techniques and sometimes they work for you sometimes they don’t. When it comes to art, it’s all about experimentation, even if it’s guided right?


  3. it’s very interesting to me comparing your to portrait pictures, and seeing how much more realistic your portrait looks in monochrome. Both are lovely but I like this one better.


  4. L~O~V~E This ! … You’re “ Amazing ! “
    Angel ( Kenduskeag )
    Still, waiting to hear back, about Crafty Flea ! Will Call Again !


  5. Hi Lindsay. What a beautiful portrait. Thanks for the motivation to perfect whatever we want to do well. I recently heard a woman credit her longevity to just learning new things. She’s currently learning to play piano and she just had her 107th birthday! There are few things any of us can know completely. Even teachers and instructors that seemed to have succeeded in that, but they learn, too, and that’s why they get to be that good. I know your learning will be passed along and I know I appreciate it. Thank you.


  6. this is beutifull as is the subject of course. doing the monochorme really helps you work on the values , this is certainly a difrent course , getting you to work outside your comfort zone. will be nice to see this unfold as youwork on this again with difrent paletes.
    yes no matter were we are we can always learn from others. were all students really learning always discovering.
    it so lovely your sharing these moments of your own learning with us.


  7. Wow! I never even thought of doing something like this with WATERCOLORS! It’s beautiful and captures her so perfectly.


  8. What a nice art!! This photo looks amazing


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