Australian artist Dee Jackson presents her beautiful portfolio of watercolour portraits. Visit her website for more information.
I love painting watercolour portraits. It is the way the medium ebbs and flows and creates its own mark. I may guide the paint, but often I feel that my portraits create themselves.
Each painting emerges differently. Sometimes a portrait appears quickly and simply with soft washes and few strokes, or I may build up the image, over time, with layers of watercolour glazes.
My portrait paintings, however, are always based on a good drawing. I especially enjoy the slight imbalance of each drawing and the way we each see a subject differently.
I always try to find that unguarded, sometimes fleetingly human side of my subject and may see some essence or trait in a person’s face that illustrates their lively character.
With a baby or child, all I can ever hope to show is the love and the joy of their family. It is a way of preserving memories and capturing life’s special moments.
When painting an older adult, I imagine how their family may like to remember them. Occasionally, I choose to soften the face a little or at other times I will emphasize the strongly etched facial lines of a sitter.
For commissions, I often use photographs as a reference as I may not even meet the sitters. The majority of my commissioned work is sourced via the web.
However, I would always prefer to meet my portrait subjects, whenever possible, and spend time with them. I may pass only a few hours with a sitter; however, I believe that knowing as much about their lives, hopes and dreams always informs the portrait.
As an artist, I realise that we all approach portraiture individually and I always base my watercolour portraits on a good drawing. However, I believe that superimposing a photograph over a portrait can often result in a soulless interpretation – creating a physically perfect yet somehow “dead” portrait.
I participate in a weekly portrait group. Some of us paint with oils, some use pastels or acrylics, others sketch with charcoal or graphite, and I use watercolour. I am always amazed and excited by the different outcomes from that workshop. We all see our subject differently. Vive la difference!