Watercolor Hair

Here’s a nice example of watercolor hair.  The combination of straight hair at the crown of the head, and curly loose hair around the face, helps you see two different textures and techniques for painting the hair.

In this painting I’ve used Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Permanent Rose and Winsor Yellow as my palette.

When painting hair remember that the hair is first a mass with a light side and dark side, just like any other mass.  Without that consideration the hair becomes a flat object.  The hair has an individual texture, depending on the person…  (wiry, curly, straight, bushy, and  shiny or dull).

Look for sections and groupings of multiple hairs.  I use lifting and negative painting to achieve these smaller divisions.  Painting hair this way keeps you away from the stringy look that we usually start with as immature artists.

It helps to be aware, as well, of the edges of the hair and it’s relationship to the background.  Let the hair softly bleed off into the background in some areas.  Leave some hard edges as well.  Where the hair is dark, you might want a light background.  And where the hair is light, you might want to darken the background.  This play between  foreground and background helps create the illusion of space.  Lifting out a couple of hairs using a metal or plastic template on a dark background can be fun.

If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

7 Responses to “Watercolor Hair”

  1. Gina August 28, 2010 7:09 am
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    You’re an amazing inspiration to anyone to believe in themselves to paint!! I love your work. I continually check your website to view more of your stunning artwork. Thank you so much for sharing so much!! Sincerely! Gina

  2. Carmen November 27, 2011 2:12 pm
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    You do GREAT hair! (Not to mention the rest of the work)!!! Mahalo Jeannie!

  3. jeannie November 27, 2011 4:25 pm
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    Thanks Carmen! I love your work too!

  4. Robert September 30, 2012 1:41 pm
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    I think I’m still in the ‘stringy hair’ phase… Your pieces look wonderful – not sure what you mean by negative painting and lifting though

  5. jeannie October 13, 2012 4:22 pm
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    Hi Robert… Guess I’ll have to post a “negative painting and lifting” demo for you and others. Thanks for commenting and keep working on hair! The more you study it, the more you’ll see and understand. I’ll be back with that post for you asap.

  6. Diane Baldessari June 1, 2018 11:49 am
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    Please do post a video on negative painting and lifting for hair when you have a chance.

  7. Jeannie June 3, 2018 7:06 am
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    I will do that Diane. Thank you for the great suggestion. 🙂

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