"She Has and She Will," watercolor, by Tony Armendariz
"She Has and She Will," watercolor, by Tony Armendariz

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of Watercolor Live, a virtual art conference taking place January 24-26, 2024.

On the Watercolor Portrait “She Has and She Will”

by Tony Armendariz

My painting “She Has and She Will” features a woman I photographed in Cuba. She was walking by me in the park carrying some food. When I later reviewed my photos I saw this shot that seemed to capture a determined look. I think she almost dropped something but recovered; thus the gritted teeth expression. Still though, she looked like a strong woman. A woman who has been through a lot with the strength to carry herself through it all – especially on that island.

For the painting, it was important that I preserve the strong highlights on her face as the rest of her face is in shadow. As for the shadow areas, I had to build up the colors and values as I wasn’t sure how dark I would take it. The background presented a similar situation.

For painting a portrait I would say this: Use color (not necessarily just earth tones or just black) for the dark areas. Apply those darks decisively so as to not create mud and lose dimension. Then your shadows will show movement and life!

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