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All Watercolor Techniques For Painting A Classic Portrait

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Step 8: Applying The “Lost-And-Found” Watercolor Technique


The darkest part of the hat blends into the background, so start by mixing a large batch of the background color: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, and Peacock Blue for a deep indigo color. Start from the back of the hat (blend it in with the nearby shadow color), and overlap the back of the collar with the same color as well, taking care to avoid any of the collar’s details. This is what Steve calls the “lost-and-found” effect, where you drastically increase the contrast of a painting by placing something very light next to something very dark without losing the continuity of the overall picture. In this portrait, it will make Roosevelt part of the background (“losing” him) while making him the main subject at the same time because the highlights on him make him stand out from the rest of the background (“finding” him).

Continue painting the background, creating variations of the same color by adding more blues, Alizarin, or Payne’s Grey. For a softer, more interesting background, you can paint wet-on-wet by using the cat’s tongue brush to wet the paper before dropping paint in. Just be careful where the background meets the hat or Roosevelt’s face as you want a clean, crisp edge. To do this, make sure the hat’s edges are dry before trying to paint near them. Remember to leave any highlights around the edge of the hat.