When painting a person of advanced years you need to ensure they look their age. The eyes of a person sink further into the eye socket as they age, so the eyes are smaller and there is less white of the eye showing. The lips as we age get thinner, the ear grows and the nose can appear bigger, although this is usually an optical illusion caused by smaller eyes and less flesh on the face.

Around the eye there are lots of lines, and you need to use tonal value skills (from light to dark) to ensure the forehead above the eye looks really like a shelf and the eye is set back under that shelf.

The skin can look weathered and the character lines on the face show a lot of the character of the person. Somebody who smiles a lot can develop some very striking crow’s feet around the eyes.

When using watercolours to paint in character lines wet the paper and then impress the lines into the texture of the paper (I usually use a biro that has no ink). The colour you use will seep into the lines impressed and will not look like a set of lines that are drawn on over the skin tone. You can also use watercolour pencils to draw in the lines (over the skin tone you have used) and then wet the paper to make the colour bleed slightly.

For this particular painting I made a detailed line drawing of the face, the lines and the headwear. I then used a burnt sienna (from light to dark) to work in glazes to add the flesh tone. But I also impressed lines into the face as I worked. I started on the forehand and worked down to the chin. This painting will take time. Do not try and rush this process, there is no need to! It really is great fun painting a person of advanced years. The lines on the face really make the shapes of the features and the cheeks.

For the areas around the eyes I used burnt sienna but added burnt umber to a portion of that and blue to another portion.

The line in the headwear are also an interesting construction to make with your paints. I used a rose madder mixed with orange for the red, a range of blues from the blue (cerulean,  cobalt and ultramarine, which I used in glazes, wet over dry paint), I mixed a cream colour using acrylic titanium white and watercolour burnt umber for the alternate stripes.

The drawing and painting took me five hours to complete.