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The Watercolor Portraits of Precious Jefferson


Q. How did you get started in your medium?

A. I’ve been sketching with graphite for over 20 years, but my current medium of choice is watercolor. Late last year, a friend of mine who owns a farm asked me to draw a picture of one of her geese, but for the life of me I just could not figure out how to effectively draw feathers! So I decided I’d paint them instead. I bought some watercolors, painted the very handsome goose, and have loved watercolors ever since!


Q. What is the biggest influence on your art?

A. I love drawing and painting people, and find the most joy in painting black/African faces. The array of skin tones from light to dark, the thick lips, broad noses, and kinky hair are such an inspiration to me. I emphasize these features as a way to celebrate the beauty of a people that mainstream society doesn’t always acknowledge as “beautiful”. 


Q. Did art play a role in your childhood? (Were you exposed to artists, did you enjoy making art)

A. Art played a huge role in my childhood. I was always the kid in school that went above and beyond for their school projects. I never took any formal classes, but I was drawing and doodling every chance I got.


Q. Who is your favorite artist?

A. Annie Lee is definitely my favorite artist and from whom I draw the most inspiration. Her paintings depict the joys and struggles of African American life. Her work has so much power and emotion behind it, which is no easy feat considering most of the people in her paintings are faceless.


Q. How does art impact your life?

A. Art keeps me grounded. I live with anxiety and art helps me to relax and provides me with an escape when I start to feel overwhelmed. It has also taught me patience and persistence. There are times when I wonder how in the world I’m going to put my vision on paper, but I work slowly, take things one step at a time, and treat each piece as a unique learning experience.


Q. How do you know what to include (or exclude) to make the viewers feel something about your art?

A. Honestly, I paint for myself and not others. Art is subjective. Not everyone will love it, no matter what you do. So, I paint what I love, what I feel, and what I want to see. Having my art touch the hearts of others is just the icing on the cake.


All of the above images are copyright Precious Jefferson and shared here with permission.


Try it yourself


Paint a portrait with M3lart


You will need:

  • watercolor paper

  • template and reference photo below, or draw your own

  • paper towels or rags for blotting

  • watercolor paint

  • pointed brushes

  • cup or jar of clean rinse water

  • pallet or plate for mixing colors

Transfer the template to your watercolor paper by taping it to a window and tracing, using carbon paper, or printing directly onto the paper with waterproof ink. If you want to use another photo, but are not ready to draw it yourself, you can also use carbon paper to trace it onto the watercolor paper.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay



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