Portrait of a woman in silk scarf headdress

Marta Li
3 min readMar 16, 2021


Watercolor and graphite pencil illustration.

As most artists I get my inspiration form what surrounds me, images I see while browsing books, magazines or the internet and even life events. A few years back my neighbours were hosting a birthday party. The patio was packed with people and as I peaked over the fence I could see the women wearing traditional dresses made from capulanas. They were absolutely beautiful with their headdresses and colorful patterns.

So I started painting bright and contrasting paintings with women and their headdresses, intricate jewelry and colorful backgrounds. I love to draw patterns, so this allowed me to add details to the fabrics. Using gouache, acrylic and watercolor as well as felt markers, I created new artworks and was proud of my ladies.

A few days ago something I saw triggered my brain into the visualization of a mixed technique illustration. I thought of making such a lady but in graphite with a ciaro oscuro effect and add a headdress with color. At first I thought of using pastels, as their usage is similar to graphite and the texture would make it interesting. But it wouldn’t allow me to add the amount of detail I wanted it to have.

So watercolor ended up being the solution. And I am so happy with the result. The colors and contrast of techniques provide such a diferent balanced vibe that I am sure I will try this often.

I used two photographies as a base, one is a composite face of Cara Delevigne and Billie Eilish by morphy_me and the other a silk scarf headdress from a picture of a model for an etsy shop for jewelry. The mix is a perfect balance, and I am very aware that my lady has its own physical features that became another person on its own. But I am happy with it, I would rather have it different than exactly alike.

Below are the pictures for the whole design. I wanted to take more photos of the process but when I am painting I get overly excited and forget to stop to take pics between steps. I hope to make that next time.