Making these portraits do take some time, but they are a really fun process. First, I scour through my hundreds of photos, looking for a photograph that speaks to me, either by the subject's expression, setting, or personal connection to me. It's one of those things where I can flip through the album and suddenly stop and think "...That's it."
Once that happens, time to draw it! Usually I trace out the form of the head first, making sure it fits correctly on the watercolor paper. Afterwards, I may do some of the contour drawing in pencil, then I trace the whole thing out in a Micron pen, either 01 or .005 size. There's a lot of back and forth looking between my paper and the photograph, all while moving my pen to make fluid lines. The result is basically a contour drawing. These used to be crazy shaped portraits, although in the past year they've become much more streamlined and easy to read.
Next comes the watercolor. Depending on the portrait, the background can either be a solid color in watercolor or acrylic, though lately I've been focusing on using two watercolor shades blended together. I'll even use the original background if it works with what I'm trying to convey with the subject.
Once that's finished, onto the figure shading. I use basically the same palette for every portrait, and while I once shaded only in the shapes the lines created in the face, I'm now also shading where there aren't lines, so the face becomes more realistically contoured. Lots of layers are involved, going from lightest to darkest. I have a habit of overworking things sometimes, so the portrait can simply sit untouched for a few hours to a day while I figure out how I feel about its overall appearance.
Once I'm happy with it, I may make a frame to go with it. These are also made with watercolor paper, watercolor, and a Micron pen, and tend to reflect the personality and era of the subject. I use foam board to create the frame shape the paper will adhere to, then make whatever frame I feel like making, then watercolor the whole thing in. Depending on the size, this can take longer than the portrait, but the result is well worth the patience. The watercolor frame is then glued the foam board, the portrait is glued onto a canvas, and the whole thing is glued together so once I add hanging wire to the back, it's ready to go up on the wall!