Creativity is for Everyone!

Back to the drawing board with Beach Girl’s Face


Last week I struggled with the face of my “beach girl” in a fun watercolor painting where she was floating in a pool. I “erased” her face several times and destroyed the paper. It was extremely frustrating.

Looking back I realized that just diving in to paint her face was a bit of a mistake. I haven’t quite figured out how to paint her face. A while back I arrived at a cute pencil drawing of her face, but how does that apply to watercolor? I’ve decided I don’t want her to have just a couple of lines and dots – for eyes. I want to add a little more detail. But I’m not sure how.

It was naive of me to think I could just wing it. If I had started with her face, in the floating painting, I would have thrown away several versions. Instead I painted everything around her face and thought I’d figure it out. (That is the Aries in me!) I now realize figuring it out is going to take time, work, patience and lots of practice.

I’ve been working on this all week. First I did pencil sketches using photos of my daughter (the inspiration behind beach girl). It is amazing how hard it is to capture the essence of a person. Is it the shape of her eyes? her chin? Then I spent time mixing colors, to figure out the right skin tone. I mixed Permanent Rose and Cadmium Yellow pale. Then I added Yellow Ochre. I’m still playing around with how much of each. And I’m still struggling with what color to mix for the shadows on her face. Add payne’s grey? or the compliment?

I painted the shape of her head in the skin tone. Then I experimented with adding the detail – the hard part! I hated all of them. But, I learned from them – the pencil is too sharp and fine, too much detail in this one, etc.

Today, I decided to try again. Before I started I looked at sample watercolor illustrations. Then, I tried again. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I am further along then last week!

Author: Eileen McKenna {my creative resolution}

Watercolor Artist, seascape painter, collector of creative inspiration. Sign up for my newsletter for a weekly dose of creative inspiration and to receive the free pdf "Watercolor Basics" – Visit:

7 thoughts on “Back to the drawing board with Beach Girl’s Face

  1. I just went through you gallery. Beautiful work! Keep painting! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much! Your comment means a lot to me! 🙂

  3. I’m enjoying following your work. My progress is going much more slowly–it’s a busy time–but I hope in about a month I will be able to pick up with it more often.

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you are enjoying following me. I just got through a crazy few weeks. So I know how you feel. Just do a little bit when you have time, until things slow down. I feel like that makes a difference for me – to not totally set things aside. 🙂

  4. I almost always start with burnt sienna. The key in using any color combo for skin tones is to use a LOT OF WATER. Sometimes I add some pink or yellow and even a darker brown for shading. Every so often if I’m getting very detailed, yes payne’s grey. It might also help not to just paint an entire circular area. For a face, go to photoshop and make your portrait black and white and then you can better get a vision of color shading/values for areas that might take color and areas you can leave white for highlighting. Hope this helps! Don’t give up!

  5. Pingback: Fun and loose in the garden | my creative resolution

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