Painting the nude in watercolour is difficult. My paintings from last week’s life drawing studio were so unsuccessful (overworked and lifeless) that they ended up in the garbage, and instead I posted a three-minute pencil sketch. Today I went in with a different attitude. I will be happy if I get one thing right — a part of an arm or a leg, or a change in value or a cast shadow… The light in the painting studio is not ideal because it’s quite flat which makes it harder to show the volume in a figure (it’s much easier when parts of the body are lit, and others are in shadow.) But I did come home feeling that at least this week the legs had volume — in sharp contrast to last week’s legs which were shapeless and overworked. I think the trick for me is to touch the paper as little as possible with the brush, but that means getting the colour and tone right the first time.


54 Comments on “Elissa”

  1. Elaine Archambault says:

    Love the colors and point of view, lovely

  2. Paula says:

    I especially like the shadowed area on the back, the greenish tinge and how it flows down to the purples in the sheet – beautiful!

  3. tmikeporter says:

    quite lovely…I’ve been going to life drawing studio lately to practice drawing and I’ve been using watercolor to practice values…I like it.

  4. Pat Brookes says:

    I think its beautiful!

  5. annerose says:

    I think that’s the trick to avoid overworking for me too, get the colour and shape of the mark right the first time. Not as easy as it sounds! Looks like you made it work here.

  6. Nathalie says:

    Vraiment très réussi!

  7. Janice Kelky says:

    It is so special that you “spilled your guts” about the early works.
    Lighting is what it’s all about So said Rembrandt, Turner, the Impressiknosirs et al.
    Your painting from the life class is lovely & vibrant

  8. Mary says:

    Shari – this is truly a beauty done with great sensitivity. You did a great job creating volume and I Iove your shadow colors and shapes. Not to mention your drawing is excellent. I also want to say how much I appreciate your honest sharing of your creative journey. You inspire me!

  9. RENE MANNING says:

    Hermoso trabajo en acuarela. Dibujar un desnudo y hacerlo con acuarela es difícil. Felicidades.

  10. Monique says:

    This is to me..just perfectly beautiful.
    You are so great.

  11. Susan says:

    This is gorgeous, Shari. I am trying to figure out where you go for your life drawing. If you went today (Monday), it is neither of the two places I know of!

  12. Mary says:

    Lovely planes and surfaces Shari, creating a sculptural quality. So fresh also 🙂

  13. Jane Hannah says:

    truly a wonderful piece Shari! It is nice to see the evolution of a true artist -)))

  14. Richard says:

    Vous êtes bien polyvalente : du dessin urbain au modèle vivant. Si bien réussi!

  15. Nonna Mynatt says:

    You are too harsh on yourself! This watercolor is brilliant! Very difficult pose and angle, you did very well!

  16. Hi Shari
    Very nice results! As allways nice and clean colours!

  17. designsweet says:

    Excellent results. I think though that is the thing with watercolour – plan first and keep it clean. I wish I could 😦

  18. croquedessin says:

    I like it so much ! Indeed painting nude is very difficult and nude is difficult too !

  19. Beth McGale says:

    I think you did a wonderful job on this… You should be proud.

  20. Alberta Smith says:

    What you set out to do you have mastered — this painting is beautiful.

  21. you are so right: so much better when you can capture tones on a figure in one pass. But SO hard: I have to work hard to not think of all skin as having the same color. My favorite part of this piece the back of the knee on that foreground leg. Just lovely, the suggestion of form, depth, shadow.

    • It’s all so relative Suhita. The tones on the figure may seem right until you add a bit of background tone and then it all goes wrong. As for the skin tone, just keep changing the colour slightly each time you dip your brush into the wash. I try to use the Charles Reid recipe of keeping the torso skin tones cooler, whether blue or green. Both work, I think.

  22. Sandra says:

    What a beautiful result, Shari! Amazing color, volume and tone. Bravo!

  23. mit says:

    Love your watercolour! Wonderfully live!

  24. Ross says:

    I feel like I just got onto a crowded bus… with 22 eager commenters ahead of me. Anyway, I haven’t read there comments so this may sound repetitive… good format, great composition and placement on the page and great skin tones… except for that nasty bruise on poor Elissa’s back. : )

    • Thanks for getting on the bus Ross. It’s great to read all the comments, and surprisingly no one else commented on the bruise. I guess everyone before you was just too polite to mention it.

  25. Rooi says:

    Hi Shari I absolutely love this.. I started life drawing this week and may I ask what colour did you use for skin tone?? Thanks in advance rooi

  26. Well done –foreshortening, shadows, and colors are lovely!

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