The Portuguese Fado Singer, Watercolor Step by Step, article and painting by Natalia Ushakova

All my studio works are based on sketches, which I do while travelling the world. For example, in 2017 I participated in the IWS Portugal. At the gala dinner, we listened to a woman singing traditional Portuguese Fado chants. Despite not knowing a single word of Portuguese, I quite accurately understood, Cristina was singing about an unanswered love. Her performance was very artistic and emotional.  She poured her soul out, and one could understand the song without translation. I could not take my eyes off her, and kept drawing sketches. Later on, I came up with an idea to make a watercolour series on Portugal – and of course the music and musicians had to be the first topic. It is a series in progress, and I have many new ideas.

Portuguese musician and singer pencil sketches (collaged), Natalia Ushakova
Step 1. Portuguese musician and singer pencil sketches (collaged).

Step 1. Here are some sketches made while listening to the Portuguese musicians and singers that I used for my watercolours.

Preliminary sketch in pencil on 140 lb. watercolor paper, Natalia Ushakova
Step 2. Preliminary pencil sketch.

Step 2. A preliminary sketch in pencil on 140lb. watercolor paper.

Adding light and transparent tones, Natalia Ushakova
Step 3. Adding light and transparent tones.

Step 3. First, I used a large brush to add light and transparent tones while painting the faces and light in the window. For this, I used Naples Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue, Burnt Sienna Light and a bit of Wisteria.

Filling the entire sheet of paper with the middle tones, Natalia Ushakova
Step 4. Filling the entire sheet of paper with the middle tones.

Step 4. Using the same brush, I filled the entire sheet of paper with the middle tones, leaving a blank area for the details of the magnificent scarf.  Tip, mix Neutral Tint with some colours with you already used in your painting like I did with Cerulean Blue, Chromium to add some coolness, and Burnt Sienna Light to add some warmth to the background.

Adding more mid-tones to the face and the scarf, Natalia Ushakova
Step 5. Adding more mid-tones to the face and the scarf.

Step 5. Add more mid-tones to the face and the scarf.  I added Cerulean Blue, Chromium for the eye shadow and for the scarf, I mostly painted with Naples Yellow and Hansa Yellow Light.

Painting the darkest, dominant tone of the entire piece - the velvet dress, Natalia Ushakova
Step 6. Painting the darkest, dominant tone of the entire piece – the velvet dress.

Step 6. Setting the darkest, dominant tone of the entire piece – the velvet dress. Tip. I prefer mixing Perylene Violet and Perylene Green to make rich, deep, dark colors instead of using black paint straight from the tube.

Enhancing the faces and hands of the singer and guitar player, Natalia Ushakova
Step 7. Enhancing the faces and hands of the singer and guitar player.

Step 7. Enhancing the faces and hands of the singer and guitar player with a thinner brush, for those details, I used Burnt Sienna Light and Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue.

Adding some red on her lips and manicure, Natalia Ushakova
Step 8. Adding some red on her lips and manicure.

Step 8. Adding some red on her lips and manicure with a fine brush using Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue.

The Portuguese Fado Singer, watercolor painting by Natalia Ushakova
Step 9. “The Portuguese Fado Singer” 46×61 cm watercolor painting by Natalia Ushakova

Step 9. To finish the work, when my paper is nearly dry, I enhance the details: faces and hands, and special features, such as the huge turquoise stone ring which I painted with Cobalt Teal  Blue. Deciding that I did not like the red nails, I washed off the color so that it would not divert attention away from the ring.

The entire work was done with DANIEL SMITH Watercolours:

List of DANIEL SMITH paints on my palette.

Natalia Ushakova's painting palette with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
Natalia Ushakova’s painting palette with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
Photo of The Portuguese Fado Singer in Natalia Ushakova's studio with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
“The Portuguese Fado Singer” in Natalia Ushakova’s studio with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors

Why I choose DANIEL SMITH Watercolours

I first discovered DANIEL SMITH watercolours accidentally by surfing on the internet.  When I found the web site, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages displaying the magnificent range of colours, I wished to buy them all!  With great difficulty, I chose my main colors. Thanks to my brother-in-law who lives in America, I got my first paint tubes and fell in love with them for their quality, brightness, purity and sophisticated hues.

I especially like the range of Perylene colours from Maroon to Green because of their qualities, they blend well and complement each other, creating rich, deep black tones.  DANIEL SMITH constantly expands its range of paints encouraging artists to make new discoveries and experiments in creativity.

I love watercolour sketching and I’m so glad to know that DANIEL SMITH has released a new product line as if specially for me!  The new Hand Poured Watercolor Half Pan Sets, which include some empty half pans that can be filled with your favourite colours, and taken with you on a trip. I can’t wait for a new journey to try them out!

My main media is watercolour, I like it for the freedom of expression and unpredictability. Also, I work in other graphic media like drawing, sketching and various hand printing techniques.  I like to travel and a large number of my paintings and sketches are done in plein air. Those sketches are later used to create large-scale works, which I often expand with my imagination. I take part in many international art festivals and exhibitions, and combine my creative work with teaching art to kids.

Photo of Artist Natalia Ushakova

About:

Natalia Ushakova received a master of art at the Moscow State Pedagogical University Fine Art.

Member of the International Watercolour Federation since 1998, and Member of the International Federation of Artists & National Artist’s Union of Russia Department graphic section since 2001. Natalia has been exhibiting her work since 1999 and in 2006, began taking part in International Art Fairs, Exhibitions, Competitions and Biennales world wide. In 2016, she was awarded the DANIEL SMITH Prize at the International Watercolour Exhibition at Fabriano (Italy), the watercolor was displayed at the International Watercolor Museum. At Fabriano in 2018,  she demonstrated a double kids portrait in Museum of town Genga.

Since 2002, she has been the owner and art director of Art Trophy Gallery, and lives in Moscow, Russia.

Natalia Ushakova's painting studio
Natalia Ushakova’s painting studio.