Watercolour portraits are a little quicker to complete than an oil painting, because although they require me to build up many thin washes of paint, this paint dries instantly unlike oil paint layers which take days to dry. The luminous quality of watercolour seems to echo that of a child’s skin, and I find them a particularly good option for a colour portrait of a child.

Watercolour portrait
Watercolour portrait
Watercolour portrait


Here’s a quick summary of how the process works. Firstly have a look on the home page if you haven’t visited there already for general information on commissioning a portrait.  There’s more information on how to select suitable photos for me to work from here including what sort of photographs I’ll need to work from and how the process works from start to finish. When you’re ready please contact me by phone or email and we can have a chat about what you are looking for with your portrait. If you are happy to go ahead I’ll begin painting and when the watercolour is nearly finished I’ll send you over a colour scan so you can see how it’s progressing and give me any feedback that will help me to complete it.

For watercolour paintings, I like to use Windsor and Newton’s watercolour in tubes (not pans) and pure sable brushes, on Arches’ Aquarelle Watercolour Paper. This is a heavyweight mould-made paper of 300 gsm which is colour-stable and acid-free, and is designed not to wrinkle or warp however many layers of colour are applied. Watercolour paper is available in either ‘hot-pressed’ or ‘cold-pressed’ varieties, and I prefer hot-pressed as it gives a smoother surface more suitable for finely detailed painting. It also allows me to place a wash on the sheet and then blot some of it off before it’s absorbed, so that I can build subtle layers of colour.

Framing watercolours

I supply portraits unframed, but am always happy to offer advice on what kind of frame will suit your portrait. Watercolour paintings should be framed exactly like a drawing – that is to say with a mount (or ‘mat’) surrounding the painting which is then covered with protective glass.  As well as setting off the painting nicely, the purpose of the mount is to create a gap between the painting and the glass, allowing air to circulate.

Copies of your watercolour

If you’d like one or more copies of your portrait so you can give another copy as a gift, I can order you high-quality ‘giclée’ print. The prints are made onto high-quality heavyweight archival paper, with fade-resistant ink and look just like an original. For more information you can read the page on giclée prints – this is geared around reproducing a pencil portrait but a watercolour can be copied in exactly the same way.

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