Vendor Voices

Daniel Smith’s Artist Joanna Barnum: Head in the Stars

By Joanna Barnum

I love the wide selection of colors offered by DANIEL SMITH, including those with unique properties not available elsewhere. It means each artist can choose precisely the palette that works best for them, and find exactly what is called for in any circumstance. The opportunity to try something new, such as DANIEL SMITH’s Luminescent (Shimmering) Watercolors, can renew creativity in the studio and lead to exciting discoveries which I explore with my Portrait with Luminescent Watercolors Step by Step Demonstration.

“Head in the Stars” Portrait Step by Step with Luminescent Watercolors

“Head in the Stars” is based on a photo I took of my friend Krystal Younglove, a circus and traditional sideshow artist based out of York, PA.. The retro sparkle of her costume was perfect inspiration for a painting done with a palette of DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Watercolors. I wanted to create a painting that felt nostalgic and dreamy.

I like to work with photo reference as the jumping off point for my portraits because of how a photo can capture fleeting expressions and movements, as well as the memories of a particular time and place. Although I also enjoy painting the model from life, and this practice informs all of my other drawing and painting, a live model is more limited in what can be sustained for several hours. I particularly love working with dancers, actors and all kinds of performers, since they’re very at ease in front of a camera. I might have a particular concept in mind when I start shooting reference, or I might just file the photos away and see what they inspire for me later on.

I look for expressions, gestures and light that inspire me in photos, but I don’t worry about keeping the original composition of the photo, or painting everything exactly as shown in the photograph.

I start with a fairly well defined preliminary drawing, which allows me to be looser and more relaxed with the painting process when I know that I already have my likeness nailed down. To avoid overworking the paper before I begin painting, I transfer the basic lines for the image from either a separate preliminary drawing or a draft copy of my photograph, and then I refine and develop the drawing using an HB (#2) mechanical pencil. I try to avoid excessive erasing.

For the atmospheric background:

I begin with Lamp Black as a foundation for this painting. It is the only color in the palette for this piece that is not a Luminescent color. One of the exciting things about DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Watercolors is how their appearance varies when painted over a light background versus a dark background.

To take advantage of that effect, I create a “night sky” atmosphere that will overlap just the top of the model’s head, dark at the top, fading down to the white of the paper. I use a spray bottle with plain water and big soft brushes to help me create this gradation. I also rotate and tilt the watercolor block to help move the wet paint around. I’m not concerned with making things perfectly smooth, I enjoy the unexpected textures that can arise within a wet wash, adding to the overall atmosphere.

Please click here to read the rest of Joanna’s Article, watch her video demonstration and learn her tips for painting with DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Watercolors. Visit Joanna’s website, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to learn more about her and her work!

Thank you for sharing with your customers! If you have any questions, please let us know in an email to:

Submitted by DANIEL SMITH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: