Faces – Direct Watercolor Practices

I wanted to start the new year with a few new challenges. Painting faces or human figures is one of them. I am not sure yet if I will like it, but the first attempts have been fun. I don´t like to work with reference photos and so I decided to start with a series of quick sketches just looking what happens on the paper when I try to paint faces from my memory. I know that these are far from being perfect and I feel that there is a lot to learn, but it was important for me to find a free approach that fits into my usual painting process. I try to paint one of these sketches every day and I try to limit the painting time to a maximum of 20 minutes per sketch. I was surprised about the very positive reactions on these sketches on Facebook – it is probably just because it is something different from me.


Ich wollte das neue Jahr mit ein paar neuen Herausforderungen beginnen. Das Malen von Gesichtern oder menschlichen Figuren ist eine davon. Ich weiß noch nicht, ob es mich auf Dauer interessiert, aber die ersten Versuche haben zumindest Spaß gemacht. Ich arbeite nicht gerne nach Foto-Vorlagen und so beschloss ich, mit einer Serie von schnellen Skizzen zu beginnen, bei denen ich schaue, was auf dem Papier passiert, wenn ich einfach aus dem Kopf drauf los male. Ich weiß, dass diese Skizzen alles andere als perfekt sind (ich will auch keinem professionellen Portrait-Maler Konkurrenz machen 🙂 ) und dass es noch eine Menge zu lernen gibt, aber es ist mir wichtig, auch hier einen freien Zugang zu finden, der in meinen üblichen Malprozess passt. Eine Skizze pro Tag mit einer maximalen Mal-Zeit von 20 Minuten sollen mir dabei helfen, diese Übungen für eine Weile durchzuhalten. Die sehr positiven Reaktionen auf Facebook haben mich überrascht – wahrscheinlich kommen die, weil es mal etwas anderes von mir ist.


Quick sketch 4
Quick sketch 21 x 29,7 cm



17 thoughts on “Faces – Direct Watercolor Practices

    1. Thank you so much, Kim! It is true: the more I paint the less I get satisfaction from the result. Seems to be my destiny, I guess this is how it should be, too. But I try to keep the painting process itself enjoyable, trying to overcome the ambition until the painting is finished.

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      1. Thanks so much, Kim! Unfortunately the expectations grow the more you paint. It is not becoming easier with the time – because the own demands gain with practice. But I think this is how i should be – and it is a great training for develope patience. 🙂


  1. Nice, Carston – It’s so fun to see the faces YOUR imagination created! I also like how they came out in your own very unique style of painting! I would say that maybe a good step for you, not liking photographic references, would be to get someone to pose live for you (or it could be time to start covertly staring at people in public places as many of us students of the human face and figure tend to do!!) so you can gain more internal knowledge of what makes a persons face human, because it’s the little irregularities and nuances that make each person unique. Or maybe your style is more in the area of painting models….idk, just some thoughts! 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Hilda. I try to paint without any direct references. I study things, photos, houses, people when I walk around etc. – but when I paint I like to make myself free from any influence. I like to concentrate completely on what happens on the paper. It may take some time until I get what I imagine on the paper – but this is my way of painting. The way is the goal and it is a good training in patience. Anyway – thank you for your suggestions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for explaining your process a little, it’s so interesting to me how every artist has their own really unique reasons for how and why they do what they do the way they do it! I look forward to seeing where this subject leads you, Carston!

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