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Classic Watercolor Figure Painting Featuring President Teddy Roosevelt

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Step 9: How To Paint A Vignette-Style Background


Once you’re satisfied with the figure painting, leave it to dry and move to work on to the background. While it’s possible to do a fully detailed background, Steve recommends doing a simple vignette here, as the focus should be kept on the “figure” part of “figure painting”.

To paint the vignette, quickly sketch in a grassy area under Teddy’s feet to give an impression of his surroundings. Next, you’ll be using the wet-in-wet watercolor technique. Do this by wetting the left side of the background with the sky wash brush, then switch to the size 12 round sable brush and mix the background color using Payne’s Gray, Peacock Blue, and Cerulean Blue. Drop this color into the still-wet paper, being careful to avoid painting over Teddy and any highlights. Since the paper is wet, the paint will spread and fade into the edges of the painting, creating the barest suggestion of the atmosphere surrounding the former president. When you reach the bottom, taper your brushstrokes and paint towards the ground for a grassy effect.