Painting Process

When creating a portrait, I first study the photo I am working from and decide on the main colour I want to use. I then turn to my colour wheel to help me determine the complimentary colours I would like to include. It is all about the colour!

I apply the paint onto the paper first, using loose expressive strokes, arranging the colours where I see them in the photo but also using my own eye to ensure that they flow and compliment each other in a balanced manner. Once the paint is dry, I then begin to work in the details in pen, continuously adding more paint where needed as I go along, until I have finally built up the portrait.

Within my work there is a fine balance between pen and paint that has to be maintained – I have to make sure that I show the form and the texture of the animal without completely covering up all of the watercolour with black ink! I have to stand back and assess the artwork at regular intervals to make sure I don’t go too far with my fineliners.

I am always told that the most recognisable trait in my paintings are the colours that I use. I am very selective with my colours and it is a much more laborious process choosing them than it is appling them onto the paper. My colour schemes are quite abstract and unusual, but always manage to maintain a sense of the animals original colouring. As you can see, the dog in the portrait below is obviously black, despite the blue and purple colour scheme.


lab process

You can see an example of how I work in the video below. If you have enjoyed learning about my painting process then you may like to follow me on Facebook as I frequently upload photos of artworks that I’m working on at various stages. Instagram is also another way to follow my work – just add @toriratcliffeart