Native American Woman Painting from Start to (Almost) Finish

A little while back I did a watercolor painting of a Native American Woman in a headdress (I’ll get into why I made this painting in a minute). I started with the sketching process, which is documented in this time-lapse video. Then I moved on to the washes…


I started with the background (always start with the background first). Then I waited for it to dry before moving on to the next color, the hair. Then I waited for THAT to dry before moving on to the next color…

native american woman painting work in progress

I had to do some sketches in my sketchbook to figure out a good color scheme for the lady. Since the background was a blue-green color, I opted to make the feathers yellow-orange, the compliment to blue-green.

With each color I painted, I waited for it to dry before moving on to the next one. As I waited for each color to dry, I worked on other watercolor paintings I had going on at the same time. That way I could switch between paintings and keep the process going for each one.

Once the yellow-orange of the feathers was done, I got a yellow ochre for the bulk of the feathers…

native american woman watercolor painting

I also did two layers of color for the Native Woman’s skin – the peach tone was too light, but the sienna shade on its own was too dark. So I did one layer of peach, let it dry, and painted a thin layer of sienna on top.

The majority of these colors were painted with cake watercolors, not tubes – hence why the white of the paper is more present.

Is this painting done? …Almost.

While the paint itself is complete, I’m debating about an idea I had at the start for this project – the idea being drawing, with fine-line markers, zentangle-esque lines into the feathers. I think that idea would be cool for something like a T-shirt, which was what I wanted to do in the first place, but now that the paint’s done, I don’t know if I actually want to do that or not.

Anyway, the reason I painted this was to make a T-shirt out of it, and here’s why: when I go shopping at places like Rue 21 or something, there are T-shirts showing Native American headdresses being worn by…skeletons.

Gee, it’s almost like they’re symbolically telling us that all Native Americans are dead or something. BUT THEY AREN’T.

So I made this painting because this is something I would want to wear – a picture of a living Native wearing something symbolically resonant of their culture, and being proud of it.

And I want to do a series of these, even if it’s just a series of three images.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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