One of the first people I met in Boucoiran was Diego, a neighbor who helps to fix things around the house for our host Eliane. When he came in and sat at the kitchen table, I was so struck by his interesting sun-weathered face, that I asked his permission draw his portrait.
I knew I only had about 15 minutes to work with, and I asked him just to keep talking, not to pose. In a situation like this you don’t want to haul out a lot of oil paints or watercolor equipment, so it’s convenient to have a set of watercolor pencils and a water brush. I used the Caran d’Ache Supracolor II pencils because they work nicely both with and without water.
The four colors you need for portraits are umber, russet, black and brown. I use two water brushes, one with plain water and one with a pre-mixed sepia color.
The paper is a Derwent sketchbook, like a Moleskine drawing book, with thick, smooth paper. It’s not really made for water, but it holds up OK.
Here’s another portrait, drawn the next day from a gentleman named Bluc Fouchaud, while he and his wife prepared supper for us.
You have to practice a lot with these pencils first to get used to what happens when you run water over your pencil work. Normally you’ll want to get the portrait half finished first to establish some tone before starting in with the water.
If you brush water over a full-toned drawing, it will get too dark right away. In the portrait of Mr Fouchaud, I established the light skin tone across the face quite early, and saved small details and accents for last.