Many people ask me how I’ve learned to paint the way I do. I am self taught and the book that opened the door for me is Elizabeth Kincaid’s Paint Watercolors That Dance With Light.
In this book she focuses on the light and takes you step by step how to create photo-realistic paintings. I found out that it’s okay to trace from a photograph. What a relief that was. I can draw but it’s a lot faster to trace. I was recently at a show where the Judge asked the artists how many of them can draw. The response was about 3 in 10 and she said that’s what she has found out. It’s not a sin to trace. Amen.
Tracing may sound easy but she emphasizes to find every change in value. I print a black and white photo and trace from there. I try to find every change in light and dark and when I’m done I’ve got a “paint by number” with no numbers and no color chart and a lot of lines.
In this example I’ve masked and poured a background first. We can chat about that some other time. What I’d like you to pay attention to is the extreme amount of lines that I found.
I spend a lot of time at this stage because I don’t want to have to line it all up again to add something that I’ve missed.
Click on the tracing image twice to really see it close up.