The baristas – watercolour paintings

I do like to include figures in my work but, some of my recent efforts that have included figures have also left me feeling a little frustrated.

I don’t really want to get into portraiture style likenesses, but I do want to be represent figures that are convincing.

I set myself a challenge to try to paint something where figures where the dominant focal point. I wasn’t seeking photographic likenesses, but I was trying to challenge myself to try to capture a little more than a silhouette.

Here’s how I got on with my challenge:

I quite enjoyed painting parts of this. In fact I enjoyed painting most of it with the exception of the faces! Despite my best intentions to try to painting everything as directly and ‘in one go’ as possible… these faces were painted, over painted, scrubbed out, painted again, then scrubbed out, then painted again… and this went on until I finally just gave up on it.

Even the parts that I’d enjoyed painting had a feel of being overworked.

As I still liked the subject, and felt that I could do a better job of this, I decided that it was worth another attempt.

I think that a certain familiarity with the view, and with having the previous effort so fresh in my mind meant that I was able to approach this with far greater freedom.

As with the previous attempt, the faces of the two figures were the last areas that I worked on. By the time I got to those areas, I was already much more pleased with this painting.

I felt there was so much more light and colour throughout the painting. Most of the bottom two thirds of the painting were painted in one go and not touched again afterwards.

Even mistakes, like on the male baristas left wrist, where the wash from the apron ‘ran through’ the wrist was left without any attempt to rectify or remedy it.

When it came to the faces I did somewhat inevitably tighten up. I did try to avoid too much fiddling, and I didn’t mess about anywhere near as much as I did on the first effort.

I do think that the overall result is much cleaner and fresher than my first attempt.

I still think there’s room for improvement but I found this to be a really valuable exercise. I doubt I’ll try this view again (for a while at least) but I’m hoping it’s a step in the right direction for some more varied approaches to included figures in my paintings.

Here are the two efforts side by side for ease of comparison:

Well that’s my opinion on these two efforts but I’d love to hear if others agree with me, or whether some people prefer my first effort?

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