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Painting an eye from a live model with Aine Divine

Join award winning artist Aine Divine for a 45min live Arty Class from her studio in Edinburgh, Scotland. Filmed live on 13th Oct 2020.

In this short exercise, Aine will be painting an eye in watercolour using flat brushes, from a live model without drawing first. This will be from a three quarter view. See more details below.

Watch the Arty Class:

See Video, Reference picture and recommended materials below


"A favourite steadying exercise of mine is to draw or paint my own eye, often in the windscreen mirror. It really is a fascinating and absorbing thing to do. In being fully absorbed in looking I am transported right back into the present moment. Today I'll be painting my daughter Erins eye. She will be lit by a single source of natural light, and I'll sit her on a bar stool so she is at eye level with me. I'll stand at the easel, ready to take a step back every so often. If you need to sit, be sure you are at arms length from the easel and can lean back easily to take a wider view. My advice here is to do what you can to be fully attentive. Really observe without any preconceived ideas of what an eye looks like. Maybe you can even forget it is an eye that you are looking at and see only in terms of shape, colour and tone. Really it's about bringing an attitude of curiosity.

I'd like to pass on today the things I look for when translating a three dimensional eye to paper. There are certain shadows, lines and shapes that are particularly helpful when painting an eye. I'll outline these one step at a time, looking at the eye from a 3/4 view. I have photographed Erin so that you have a similar view to mine to work from. If you can, find a live sitter; while it feels riskier, I feel there is more to be gained from actually seeing and selecting shapes, tones and colours from reality rather than a 2d image. In practise beforehand, you could always give painting your own eye a go."

Photos by Jim Mackintosh

Reference: <DOWNLOAD HERE>

Example of Aine's eye (featured on the front cover of a Sky Arts series book):

Recommended Materials:

• Here are the brushes I recommend for this exercise, available from the range

• I also use the 11/2" flat brush from my set with Rosemary and co. (optional for this exercise)

• The colours; I use Winsor and Newton artists watercolours in tubes, but really any watercolour paint in these colours will work.

Sap green, Cadmium red, Cadmium Lemon yellow, yellow ochre, viridian green, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue and vandyke brown. Cadmium orange (optional)

• I use bockingford paper, the NOT surface (which is in between rough and smooth) I use the heavy 535 gsm paper,  but really for this exercise any weight is fine, and no need to buy Bockingford specially, any watercolour paper will work.

• Kitchen paper is useful for drying the brush, and masking tape for sticking your paper to the drawing board, if you don't have an easel you can always lean the board on a chair, or if sitting, perch it on your knees and lean the top against a table. I like the board to be as vertical as possible, it reduces distortion when painting down what you see. If you are left handed you'll look out the right side, and vice versa. Make sure your water and materials are within easy your main focus is on observing and translating what you see swiftly and easily.

I look forward very much to sharing the joy of this approach to watercolour painting with you...roll on October :)

Shout-outs for this Arty Class:


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