Lianne Williams

Autumn: A portrait inspired by the season

Art & IllustrationLianne WilliamsComment
autumn portrait new artwork by Lianne Williams.jpg

My latest portrait is inspired by autumn

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure policy for further info)

Don't you just LOVE this time of year? Autumn is hands down my favourite season and if you follow me on Twitter or wherever, you'll know I'll constantly be whining about how it's not autumn, and saying things like 'I'm waiting till autumn' or 'that wouldn't have happened if it was autumn' and so on.

It's the colours, it's the crisp fresh air and bright skies, it's the smell of someone lighting their fireplace for the first time in months, its the... knitwear. Let's be honest, it's all about the knitwear. Autumn is the time of year where I can get out all my jumpers, plaid, opaque tights, scarves, and knitwear and a) not look a pillock or b) sweat to death.

Despite my witchy past Hallowe'en doesn't rank very highly for my in the social calendar but you will find me collecting pumpkins, lighting candles, admiring conkers and having bonfires to say farewell to the bountiful summer and welcome in the winter. I even chose to get married in autumn. On purpose.

With that being said it was only a matter of time before I created a portrait inspired by the season. Considering I'd already done quite a large piece inspired by the Spring Equinox (Ostara) it seems the seasons are a source of inspiration for me at the moment!

So here it is: Autumn. A portrait inspired by the season.


I started with a watercolour wash for the background using my new Prima Watercolor Confections: Tropicals palette (colours 21, 17 and 22 with a few dabs of 19) using a mix of wet on wet and wet on dry to create a bit of texture and bleeding. The paper I used is simply a a sheet of Ken Bromley practice paper (280gsm, NOT) so it has a little bit of texture to add character but not so much that I couldn't work with colour pencil over the top. While we're on it, the Ken Bromley practice paper is AMAZING value. You get 50 sheets for around £20! I got mine a few years ago and STILL working my way through it!!

Once that had dried (took an hour or so) I grabbed some references and began piecing together my idea for a portrait in my head.

It was pretty straight forward, as I was using a self portrait, so I didn't need to composite my ideas together in Photoshop like I sometimes do but I added some stronger makeup, red hair and I was going to finish with some leaves but I changed my mind at the end. Once I had my concept roughly decided (these things always change when you begin drawing anyway) I then loosely translated that all down as a sketch onto my painting. I say loosely because even though I used myself as reference, I didn't intend for it to look like me, so I could play about with proportions without worrying too much about accuracy.

Next I started on the face, as I usually do, working with both Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor Premiere & Verithin pencils. I really enjoy blending the two brands now and use the Prismacolor Premiere for softness and blending (skintones, flattening the pencil marks into the paper tooth) the Verithin for sharpening detail (they're especially hard and pointed) and the Polychromos were brilliant as always as a good all rounder.

I finished the hair and head piece, which is actually a necklace I have, the following day when daylight improved- I guess that's the one downside of autumn... it's very dark!

autumn portrait by Lianne Williams watercolour and colour pencil 4.jpg

The hardest part was getting the red hair to fit with the background and choosing the right colours that weren't too transparent or changed the tone too much. A colour I may typically go for wouldn't look right against the background so I had to use a bit of colour theory to get my portrait the way I wanted.

I decided to let the hair finish roughly as I didn't want to refine the drawing too much, I quite liked its sketchiness and felt that something too detailed would conflict with the watercolour too much. So some parts are detailed, some parts have an unfinished feel.

I'm particularly pleased with the red lips and the highlights on the skin. I think it makes the portrait pop and I've struggled getting the colour right for red lips in the past. My tip is to use a bright orange as a base layer and then work in reds over the top to give it that power.

I hope you like it and as always I'm happy to answer an questions.

How does autumn inspire you? Show my your responses in the comments: artwork, photography, poetry all welcome.