Preparing for a watercolor painting

I’m planning a large painting—a full sheet of watercolor paper—of a figure. As eager as I am to start slopping paint around on such a large space, I know I”ll be happier if I first paint some smaller studies. I often make lots of studies before beginning a painting; with watercolor, it helps to know where you’re going.

Watercolor sketch of coat
Watercolor sketch of coat 8″ x 10″

The painting is based around an old coat of my mother’s. My grandmother made it in the 50s, and as a testament to my mother’s care and thoughtfulness with her things,  the coat is still like new. Getting the right red-orange color is difficult. It’s an unusual shade of red.

Watercolor figure sketch
Figure sketch in watercolor 10″ x 8″

I got my niece to pose for me in the garden and I sketched, took photos, and made color studies. She’s a lovely young woman and I wish she would be my model always, but sitting still for so long made her feet fall asleep. It’s hard work to be a model.

Watercolor painting of a young woman's face
Watercolor portrait study 7″ x 5″

This is much larger than it will be in the painting, but I couldn’t resist painting a close-up of her face.