Darren from Watercolour Mentor here. Painting eyelashes in watercolour portraiture – how to do it? They can be tricky, and you only get one go at doing them in watercolours!
I use the technique of applying more pressure on the brush at the base of the individual eyelash I’m painting, then removing pressure as I get to the tip (almost like a ‘flicking’ motion). This leaves a finer line at the end of the eyelash. Make sure the brush isn’t too wet, the moisture on the brush should be just enough to ensure a crisp, dark stroke without having to go over it again, or excess water pooling around the area. Also check that the paper is completely dry before adding the lashes and darker details – you want the eyelashes to go on crisp and without any spreading as this can make your painting look muddy and you’ll need to go over the eyelashes again!
My second tip is to practice painting the eyelash ‘strokes’ first on a separate sheet of paper, try the technique I described earlier, and I’m sure after some trial runs, you’ll feel more confident to try it on your painting. My sketchbook is filled with all kinds of scribbles and odd marks – to help me practice specific brush strokes and techniques. This helps to build up a mental repertoire or muscle memory for painting different brush strokes. Paint quality helps but it’s more important your brush has a very fine point for these details.
Try to paint eyelashes near the end of your painting, as this will give you more time to focus on building up detail in the eye and skin around the eyes. Then you will be able to gauge how dark you’ll need to go when adding the eyelashes. Here’s an example below from one of my portraits:
Have a look at the classes page for more in-depth courses on painting portraits in watercolour.