Art journal tutorial: how to paint a loose watercolor portrait

how to paint a loose watercolor portrait

Watercolors can be really tricky; and trying to paint portraits using watercolors can be a nightmare! The key, for me, is to keep it loose and whimsical, and today I’m going to show you just how to paint a loose watercolor portrait.

Loose watercolor portrait demo

This video will show you how to paint a loose watercolor portrait from start to finish. You’ll find some watercolor portrait tips and a supply list below the video.

Tips for painting loose watercolor portraits

Unlike acrylics, where I use multiple layers to create depth in the faces that I paint, I like to keep things very simple with watercolors while still creating dimension.

One of the keys is to not try and fill everything in with color. This allows the viewer to fill in the details while still creating a loose, expressive watercolor portrait.

The other tip, especially when you’re starting out, is to use watercolor pencils. These give you a lot more control over watercolors and can really make it easy for you to understand the medium, so you can figure out how to make traditional watercolors work for you down the line.

And the third, mix your mediums! Use graphite pencils or ink to add in details and some darker areas of shading to really make your watercolor portrait stand out.

the treasure within loose watercolor painting demoWatercolor portraits: supply list*

Derwent Watercolor pencils – Terracotta, Burnt Umber, Red

Camel Artist’s watercolors – Prussian Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue Hue

Pentel watercolor tubes – Violet

Staedtler graphite pencil – 6B

Ink pen + black writing ink

I hope you found this helpful! Do let me know if you have any questions. And if there’s a specific technique or topic you’d like to see in future videos, do let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed the video, do subscribe and follow my YouTube channel – I will be adding a new art journaling video every 2nd and 4th Saturday!

Healing with art

There is so much joy and healing that I find at the painty table. It’s a joy I wish everyone could experience. Which is why I love to create mini art + soul ecourses that include curated guided meditations, journaling questions, and an art journal project from start to finish. The videos are broken down into easy to watch segments, which makes it perfect even for the most busy people to watch and create! You can find all the ecourses and sign up for one or more here.

* Note: These are affiliate links, which means that I will make a small commission on your purchase at no extra cost to you. 

Posted in Art Journaling, Art tutorials.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. This was actually quite nice. Been over a decade since I painted… Used to be so relaxing. Subscribed to your youtube page too.

  2. Beautiful post yet again ?you make me feel like jumping straight into watercoloring but I am controlling myself as I have already started few other projects. Watercoloring is big on my list this year and your posts are super inspiring and helpful. I have never tried watercolor pencils. They do look much easier to use. I love creating mixed media artworks too. It gives art so much depth and layers.

    • Thank you so much, Raj! I’m also trying to improve my watercolour skills this year. I find them very challenging to manage. Mixed media is so much more my jam! I love combining mediums and creating layers and depth in my work.

  3. I love using watercolor. I am not painting with watercolor now as it is too risky with a little one who likes to eat colors. Your painting is beautiful, Shinjini. I will bookmark it and learn your techniques to try in the future. ❤️

    • Eat colors? That’s a little scary for sure. Thank you for your kind words. I’m still experimenting with watercolours myself. I think I’ll always be more of a dabbler when it comes to watercolours. I love mixed media way too much! 🙂

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