Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Dance Recital Diva"

I just finished another colored pencil "painting" which I have aptly named "Dance Recital Diva".  This time I have also incorporated techniques from the book "Colored Pencil Portraits - Step by Step" by Ann Kullberg.  Her techniques are different from those used by Alyona Nickelsen in her book "The Colored Pencil Painting Bible".

The basic difference in the two styles is that when Alyona refers to a wash it is generally a mineral spirits wash or blending with a colorless blending pencil.  With Ann, a wash is a uniform layering of colors to form a base.  In this illustration I have used Alyona's mineral spirits wash on the back ground and hair; while I used Ann's techniques for the skin tones.

If you want to learn skin tones, get Ann's book ... it, to me, is phenomenal!  Basically it is light layers of color applied with "sharp" tipped pencils, ever so gently.  It does take time but I think the results are well worth the effort.  She even has instructions on how to create your own skin tone bar and how to effectively use it.  With her skin tone color guide you  are provided a foundation for skin tones of all ranges.

When I began this picture I had ordered her (Ann's) book but hadn't yet received it, but I did have a list of the colors in her value groups.  I started out with how I thought the colors should be applied and ended up a bit frustrated because things were not progressing well.  I said a little prayer to God for help and walked away from the piece before I ruined it any further.  Would you believe, the next day her book arrived at my door step before 10 AM, and I had only ordered it three days prior with standard shipping!  Now that was a fast answer to my prayer!  Thank You God!

Anyway, I read the instructions for "Creating Believable Skin Tones" and started in again.  I also did something one should not do ... I used my electric eraser and removed most of the colors I had earlier applied to the face.  When they say Stonehenge paper stands up to abuse - it is true!  Well, it wasn't quite a clean slate but the area was clear enough for me to start and complete a fairly decent face with believable skin tones.

Now the hair, well that is more or less my own technique that I have developed over the years.  I really like the hair strands to show, so after I applied the base colors for shadows and highlights and then applied a mineral spirits wash to those colors, I used illustration pens (in orange, light brown, sepia, dark brown, and a bit of black) to provide the illusion of hair strands.

First I will share with you the photo I used for this picture ....

I used this photo and tweaked things a bit (artistic license).  I changed the bodice of the dress to black because I wanted more contrast between it and the sleeves; then I changed her hair from a braided pony tail to hanging loose (it just felt right).  The result is:

I know it doesn't look a lot like the photo, but I have never claimed to be a portrait artist; I am just an artist who likes to draw people in a realistic fashion.  All in all, I think it turned out rather well!

Happy Day!
Karen Anne Brady


  1. Your finished portrait is stunning. I like the changes in color and details, like the hair and the overall softness. You're amazing.

  2. I think instead it's very similar to the picture, meaning it captures what is needed to be a perfect portrait!

  3. Perfect down to every last tooth in that beautiful smile!

  4. Thank you Gloria, Elettrarossa, and Debbie! I'm so happy you like this little painting and my changes!

  5. Hi Karen Anne ;o) I agree with Debbie! Perfect down to every last tooth in that beautiful smile! She is so precious! And, I like the changes in the hair and in the dress ;o) Sorry, I haven't been around! I have been gardening! Trying to catch up! Hugs ;o)

  6. Hi Stacy! Yippee! I got the "Magic Love Crow" stamp of approval!

    How's your garden doing? I'm looking forward to this weekend, its supposed to be nice enough outside that I can plant seeds for a herb garden in my raised bed. Planning to put in oregano, basil, sage, chives, parsley and some swiss chard (I know, chard isn't an herb but it sure makes for a tasty salad!) .... oh yes... and some rosemary and thyme for sure!

    Then I'll pray that my little garden grows!

    Big hugs!


Thank you for visiting, if you'd care to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!