Lately I’ve been painting a lot more whimsical animals and colorful characters with big, dramatic eyes and faces.
Most of my paintings begin with the eyes, but they are always the hardest thing to paint and I can never stop until they resonate with my soul.
I begin with a few colored fingerprints on a solid background. Then add in my eye outline and definition with water-soluble pencil. Next, I go back in with more color and a little white paint pen on the sides and at the center to show a light reflection. After this initial layer dries, I add more definition with my pencil, then more color, again and again.
I often find myself setting aside my brushes in these first layers and just focusing on fingerpainting. This keeps me unattached to my character rather than getting into my head and “thinking” the eyes and features should look a certain way or be a certain shape. Yet even after all of these layers, the eyes can sometimes still look too painted on. That’s when I go back in and cover up more of my lines, then add more pencil smudges at the lashes to create softness.
If you’re looking to keep your faces and eyes looking more carefree and organic, try smudging out your lines or letting your initial layers show through to create the illusion of definition. Instead of adding a thick layer of solid color, add a transparent ink or dots of paint pen. Instead of outlining your eyes and penciling in every detail, add a little water to your water-soluble pencil and bleed out your lines.
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