I’ve admired some of Lynne Hoppes’ art for awhile. First, because I love painting faces. Second, because the simplicity of her art is divine and third the color combinations!
The artist has written out the steps for her face painting process in her blog “how I paint faces” so let’s give it a try! (I won’t repeat her steps here, you can read her on your own.)
Any mixed media artist has lots of old books, probably too many. To start, I decided to go small…this page is from a book called “The Letter” and is about 4×6 inches.
Following the artists’ directions, I drew the outline of a face similar using hers as a reference. I’ve been practicing faces, so felt good about being able to draw my own. I didn’t have a lot of the supplies she listed, but I had a 4B pencil and turns out that is just fine. Next comes the creamy oil pastel…didn’t have her color, so I used white.
Next, she adds some earthy yellow to the shadow areas and rubs in some spots. At this point, I realized I covered up too much with the oil pastel and the watercolor just sits on top of it. Easy to remember to fix next time, but she also rubs in the watercolor and that worked well for the rosy cheeks.
I added watercolor for the turban, lips and eyes in the colors she suggests (or best substitute I could find). Rubbing in the watercolor really worked to tint the white oil pastel. I liked this technique so much, I used it a lot!
The picture at right shows all these steps and one more that was not in the tutorial that I dreamt up myself. The paper is very thin and of course it has very straight edges. I tore the edges to create a deckled edge, then I used matte medium to glue it to a piece of 300 lb. watercolor (very stiff). I used a hairdryer for a quick 2 minutes and then set it under a heavy board for about 10 minutes to make sure it dried flat.
For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to “fix” the top side with matte medium (and I still do). So, I put a thin layer on top of all that wonderful watercolor…and yes, it ended up muted and diluted. No worries, it’s easy to fix.
I loved the deckled edge, but she needed a darker background – and I knew I had to re-energize the colors in her face and turban from my matte medium faux pas. The artist doesn’t go into creating the background, but read her blog, it’s pretty easy to figure out. I used some purple and gray on the darker, left side. and some rose and white on the opposite side. I let that dry and then re-saturated other colors and added some more white oil pastel to help her face pop out.
I’m really happy with the result! Final size is 5×7 and fits beautifully behind a 5×7 white mat or frame.
After a successful first start, I wanted to go again, but with my own style this time. I chose a larger size and glued a few extra papers on top to create more texture. Since it had matte medium on it, I made sure it was dry with a hair dryer. Then, I pulled a reference photo from unsplash.com (great place to get free photo resources) and drew my face on. Here’s a closeup of the papers from the finale shot (sorry I forgot to take pics all the way through)…click it to enlarge. That line coming down from her left eye is all texture and some watercolor smear…but I LOVE it. Embrace these happy accidents and forget about perfection (uck!).
You can see I love color and went a bit crazy adding greens, pinks, blues as well as the colors from the first try. After painting, I felt I needed another coat of matted medium, but I lost a lot of the color…again. I’ll have to remember to spray fix the watercolor or go gentler with the matte medium. But it’s easy to fix by adding another layer of color and oil pastel, so don’t sweat it. Layers to me are a record of your journey and I like them. Without smearing the watercolor with the matte medium, I’m not sure that line down her left eye would exist. Rubbing the oil pastel can rub off a layer and that’s what happened at her neckline. All good, just leave it or fill it in with white or color.
When I applied the matte medium, the underlying page buckled (it was really thin!) and I got some folds at the edges. I ended up liking that effect and didn’t try to fix it.
I added more watercolor, more rubbing, more white oil pastel to “lift her face”. The oil pastels were really luscious, and I needed more saturation in her hair, so I added them there as well, rubbing in some of it so I had hard and loose edges. I thought her eyes were a bit dark, so I added a mixture of cobalt blue and white and just dotted the lower pupils. Using a bright, lime green, I rubbed it on the edges of some of the papers to help the texture stand out and decided her cheek needed a bit more punch, so added some green there. Finally, I used a dark charcoal pencils to go over some of the contours of her face and added some strands in the hair to give it more contrast overall. I could have softened the charcoal by rubbing or with water, but I liked it as it was. Maybe next time.
I adhered this piece to a 140 lb. piece of watercolor paper just to see if it would stand up. It’s perfect for when you want the piece to go behind a mat. If you want to use the artwork by itself, no mat, in frame, I would recommend the 300 lb. paper. I didn’t deckle the edges because I plan to put this behind a white mat.
I might purchase the creamy color oil pastel that Lynne has in her tutorial supply list. It’s a pretty, special color, but white works too, especially if you are into color like me. The charcoal pencil left really yummy dark lines that I love. I might a stabilo pencil next…
I hope you give her tutorial a try to get the hang of it and then venture out in your own style…these are really fun to do. I’m going to put them in my Etsy shop and see how it goes. Toodles!