What a Feeling: The Emotive Watercolor Portraits and Figures of Keinyo White

The watercolor paintings of Keinyo White show us the figure and nothing but the figure. The model’s surroundings are absent, aside from perhaps a chair, and in many cases even his or her clothing is rendered minimally. An American artist who lives in New Zealand, he expands upon his watercolor techniques and how they came about in the February 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist.

“My minimalist approach to background came about out of art school, in a way,” he says. “In school, everything you make for four years has to be a totally complete image. After that, as my work progressed and I found my own voice, I decided that I didn’t want my paintings to look so picture-perfect. I came to this realization: I’ve got this sort of detailed style, and if I’m going to make it as perfect as a photo, why even do it? I found that having objects in the background detracted from the figure, so I stopped putting them in. That progressed to using a simple wash background, which progressed to just showing the figure against a stark white setting.”

View some of Keinyo White’s striking watercolor portraits and figures in the gallery below, and read more about him in the February 2015 Watercolor Artist, available now at northlightshop.com and on newsstands December 23.


Claire (watercolor on paper, 18x15) by Keinyo White | watercolor portraits

Claire (watercolor on paper, 18×15) by Keinyo White


Ella 18 (watercolor on paper, 22x24) by Keinyo White | watercolor portraits

Ella 18 (watercolor on paper, 22×24) by Keinyo White


Hannah (watercolor and gouache on paper, 15x18) by Keinyo White | watercolor portraits

Hannah (watercolor and gouache on paper, 15×18) by Keinyo White


Introspection (watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 22x30) by Keinyo White | watercolor portraits

Introspection (watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 22×30) by Keinyo White



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