I find it amazing that I was recognised as one of the figures in my earlier street scene blog post from Florence, shared today. I used to paint figures all the time but then they lost their magic for me as other new favourite subjects took over. But when I painted them as a break from my scheduled painting week I found I had fallen in love with them. All over again.
I started painting figures when I lived in Dubai. I loved the markets and souks there so much and often wandered around with my camera collecting images to paint. Market scenes became my best selling work in exhibitions at that time along with portraits. But I later moved to France and continued with my market theme in watercolour there. Of course the clothing was different. Gone was the dish dash and in came Western clothing.
I still don't sketch before I paint when working on figures. I find my starting point. In this case one head shape, and I added the other heads in a row. Like paint blobs but with character!
Paint blob heads in a row
Next I begin to add clothing. I look at the leg positions for the men in my painting as this will guide my brushwork on where to add colour. This group of friends are walking close together and I want to show that they like each other by connecting them with colour. As they are in bright sunlight I will leave a lot of paper white.
Adding clothing to the head blobs of colour is the next step.
Once I am very happy with the composition and proportions I strengthen colour in places and add details . From here I can add sunglasses, hats, a background or foreground. The choice is mine and I will have so much fun deciding. I just thought this could be a fun blog post as it is such an interesting way to work.
Detail begins to be added to my figure painting.
My best tip for painting figures in watercolour is to sit in a busy shopping centre, market or airport even. Observe and sketch shapes. then try painting what you have seen with simple blobs of colour.
Be warned, this is addictive as a hobby!