Red, Red, Red

– Alizaron Crimson

– Cadmium Red

– Deep Carmine

A rose by any other name would look as sweet.

I used reddish hues from three separate watercolor sets to reach the rich variety in this week’s portrait.  On its own, cadmium looks more orange than anything else.  Most other reds either lean toward earthiness or magenta-ness.  So I combined them all – without mixing them completely – resulting in the swirling red background drapery, the blush to the sitter’s cheek, the auburn of hair, and the almost-pink of her shirt.

Girl w Red Wall  - rd


I’m very pleased with the way this one turned out.  It should be stated right up front that the person in the painting looks nothing like the slender, pretty girl who sat for us.  But a perfect likeness wasn’t the point.  Instead, the task I set for myself was work brazenly, with a minimum of preparation or second guessing.  And to get as much color on the page as humanly possible with each brush stroke.

Thanks to Elena Caravela for the inspiration.  Check out her fantastic work on her blog, here.  I adore her bold use of color – realistic in only the loosest sense.  She also employs rowdy confidence in her brushwork and paint handling.  I’d love to get closer to her level over time.

The feel of the reproduction here is a little different from past posts.  I finally bought a scanner, which was used for this one instead of a camera.  The immediate benefits of this approach is that the lighting is almost perfectly even – almost too perfectly.  And it’s extremely crisp – no blur.    The drawbacks are that you lose some of that ‘tactile’ dimension that exists in the photos, and there’s a slight seam, since the full picture didn’t fit on the flatbed at once.

Some of these problems can be overcome, as I get used to using the machine again.

What are you observations?

This entry was published on March 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm. It’s filed under Bold Color, Portraits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Red, Red, Red

  1. It really feels alive, and I really sense the lack of “holding back” with your strokes & color.

  2. You are so kind! Thanks also to Tom and Jill. I feel like I’m in very good company. This is a fantastic painting! Your brushstrokes, loaded with brilliant warms and complementary cools tell the story of your focus as you moved around the work. Exceptional!

    • Thank you, Elena. I feel the tearing down of some of the mental or emotional obstructions that keep my work ‘safe” but also tentative. It’s scary and exciting to think what possibilities may open up over time…

  3. I love the bold colours, Gabriel… and as you say the red indeed looks very red! I like how the blending of the reds has made it more vibrant. And the seam isn’t too noticeable… I wouldn’t have spotted it if you hadn’t mentioned it! Yes, very bold and very good. I’ve also checked out Elena’s blog – thanks for the recommendation.

    • Oh, she is absolutely terrific. In the sense that it almost terrifies me to think how good she is. Make sure to browse around and see some of the realistic watercolors Elena does, as well as the fairies and such.

  4. This is a lot more color than I typically see you use, and you know that tickles me pink, or in this case, red. The use of the three colors is brilliant. I agree with your assessment on the characteristics of each individual hue, and that the combination is great. I love Elena’s work and feel you’ve already mastered her bold, loose strokes, but in your own style, and it’s perfectly delightful, so nothing to reach for there except your own satisfaction with your work. Love it!

    • Thank you for your enthusiastic encouragement.

      I’m not trying to put myself down, I love this piece and I am proud of my skills. However, there’s a level of facility and consistency that is still a bit beyond me… A worthy goal to work towards, but that may, realistically, take years to accomplish.

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