Arts and Crafts

May Crowning: Painting Mary From a Picture of a Statue

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How To Paint A Portrait Of Mary With A Crown Of Loose Watercolor Florals

I’d ultimately like to be able to paint portraits of Mary, Jesus, the saints, angels and the like. So for my first practice, I decided to try painting Mary to celebrate May Crowning from a picture of a statue.

Originally, I wanted to take a picture of a lovely statue of Mary at my church but I just kept forgetting to snap the photo. So instead, I did an internet search and just found a picture of a statue that I liked.

Step 1: Edit and Print Picture

I took a screenshot of just the headshot of the picture and used Microsoft PowerPoint to adjust the image so that it fit on a regular 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. At this size, the image was quite pixelated but I wasn’t worried about that as I was just using it as a reference.

Step 2: Trace Image Onto Watercolor Paper

I didn’t have any carbon paper so to trace the image I first colored in the back of the printout with a drawing pencil. I used a drawing pencil in the 4H shade but I’m sure any old pencil would work fine.

I colored in only the areas that I needed to trace so it wasn’t necessary to fill in the whole page.

Then, I traced the image onto watercolor paper outlining the important divisional areas such as where the veil ends and the hair begins, the eyes, nose, lips, shadows, etc.

The resulting transfer is very light and it’s hard to see it in this image. I wanted it light so that when I painted over it the lines would easily disappear.

Step 3: Paint Pink Roses

I started out by painting pink roses. I figured these roses would be the main focus of the crown. For these roses, I used the color cerise from the 36 Colors Bianyo Watercolor Cake Set. My husband bought this set for me for Christmas last year and I’ve been loving it so far. It’s a great beginner set with a good range of colors plus it’s super affordable!

Step 4: Paint Peach Ranunculus

To paint the peach ranunculus, I used the vermilion color on the palette. I watered down the color quite a bit to achieve the soft peach color. I found that the actual peach color on the palette was too light to paint with.

Step 5: Paint Red Carnations

I used crimson on the palette to paint the red carnations.

Step 6: Paint Green Foliage

For the green leaves, I used the leaf green color on the palette.

Step 7: Paint Blue-Green Foliage

I added smaller fern-like blue-green foliage to give the crown some depth. I mixed the color using fluorescent blue and leaf green on the palette.

Step 8: Paint the face, hair and clothing of Mary

The next was to finish painting the face and clothing of the portrait. I used burnt umber and Vandyke brown to paint the hair and dark shadows. For the skin I used the flesh color mixed with burnt sienna. I also used grey for lighter shadows on the face and clothing.

Almost done…

The final step was to sign the painting. Et Voila!

Things I would like to do differently next time:

  • Sign my name either with watercolor or a pencil. I used a pen and didn’t like how much it popped out of the painting.
  • Learn how to paint more refined flowers. Although I love the way loose watercolor florals look, I’d love to paint more realistic looking flowers.
  • Do some watercolor portrait tutorials. I just winged this painting but I think it would be beneficial to do a couple of tutorials before I try painting a portrait again.

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