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Friday, October 10, 2014

Painting of a Little Girl: Julia and Julia

How fun it would be to visit a butterfly pavilion and discover that there is a butterfly there with your same name. And so my portrait title comes from the two lovely Julia's in this painting.
Julia and Julia
12 x 9", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c) 2014
Stage 1: The drawing. With a mixture of ultramarine blue and transparent earth red thinned with mineral spirits, I used a number 2 filbert brush to draw Julia and the butterfly freehand.
Stage 2: Julia's face. Painting alla prima(Italian, meaning at first attempt), I completed the face and hair while adding some color to the background so that I could create soft edges and compare color. I did block in her face with a thin layer of paint before I came back in with a thicker second layer. (Sorry, I forgot to photograph the first layer.)
Stage 3: Painting the dress, arm and hands. When painting wet paint-on-wet paint, I look forward to seeing how the top layer of paint will work into the blocked in color of the first layer.
Stage 4: Painting the second layer of the dress, arm and hands. I mixed a pale pink to give the  impression of the white design on her dress fabric.  I like what the fabric pattern does to the painting -- adding interest, detail and color.
Stage 5: Completing the painting. This unique background created an interesting challenge for me: to give enough information to help tell the story of this butterfly, Julia, and its surroundings with Julia the little girl -- but not make it too cluttered with unnecessary detail. Because I have a tendency to paint every last leaf in a painting like this, I combat this issue of mine with a palette knife. After I applied the paint with the palette knife I then came back in with a soft brush to create the illusion of plants intermingling with the butterfly and red flowers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dog Portraits: Freckles 1 & 2

Behind every painting commission is a personal story. When I accept the commission I view it as an invitation to enter that story. I feel honored every time. The portraits I completed this week feature the same dog, Freckles, in two stages of life; as a shaggy, sweet puppy and now in present day, as an older, wiser, faithful companion.
Freckles The Puppy
10 x 8", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Stage 1: The drawing. With a thin wash of burnt umber paint and mineral spirits, I draw the image of Freckles with a number 2, filbert bristol brush, freehand, using several photos for my reference. My goal at this stage is accuracy. If I capture his likeness now the rest of my job is so much easier.
Stage 2: Blocking in the underpainting. This is such a fun stage. With a large brush I lay down the paint in blocks of color knowing that some of it will  show through the top, thicker layer.
Stage 3: Completing the painting. This final layer is done with brush strokes placed with intentional variety and color. The background represents where Freckles was photographed, in a pale green, grassy field.
Freckles
10 x 8", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Stage 1: The drawing.
Stage 2: Blocking in the underpainting.

Stage 3: Completing the painting. Freckles, as an adult, lost some of his pronounced markings. I also had to take in to account the changes in his hair and the way it fell. One trait that did not change was his alert, vibrant energy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Portrait of a Little Girl:"Mariposa" Completed

I enjoy creating paintings for different reasons. To tell a story and entertain is always my first goal. This composition, with subject matter so unique in comparison to my traditional portraits, was a wandering of sorts off the beaten path.
Mariposa
9 x 12", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson (c)2014
Stage 3: Painting the hand and arm. 
Stage 4: Painting the  hair, blue t-shirt and background... Working on all three during the same painting session made painting their soft edges much easier.
Stage 5: Completing the painting...the butterfly and foreground. I painted the textured foreground first, saving the butterfly as my reward for getting everything else done. I was excited about this beautiful butterfly (mariposa) from the very beginning. It added contrast, pretty lines and design. And now, with this painting completed, I will let it rest before I make any adjustments. Its always good to let a piece of work sit for a while if you can. I will see it with fresh eyes in a week or so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Portrait Of A Little Girl: Mariposa

In a quiet moment I see large blue eyes intently studying a butterfly. My granddaughter, Sofia, is at rest and watchful. Lost in a period of time, captured by wonder and design. For me is was delightful. Soothing. Inspiring. A painting waiting to happen.
Stage 1: The composition. Drawing freehand with a paint brush I try to portray this image with as much accuracy as possible. Working from a photograph means I have to adjust the proportions that the lens over compensates for. The hand had to be drawn much smaller. It was fortunate that I was able to have Sofia pose for me so that I could sketch her from life and make accurate changes.
Stage 2: Painting the face. Working wet paint onto wet paint my goal was to work efficiently, making every stroke count. Already though, I see changes I want to make. 

I think I'll work on her hair next and then her arm and hand.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dog Portrait Commissions: Stubby I and Stubby II

After studying the regal look and features of this beautiful German Shorthaired Pointer, I told my client I was going to give him the title of "Sir" Stubby. He has such a strong, confident look about him. (He was named Stubby because of the shape of his tail.)

"Sir" Stubby
8 x 10", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Stage 1: Drawing and blocking in (painting the first layer of shapes and values) the subject. With a thin wash of burnt umber paint and mineral spirits, I loosely drew in the shapes and features, using a soft cloth to erase and make adjustments.
Stage 2: Completing the portrait. For the second layer, I like to start with the eyes and then build the painting from there. The eyes become the focal point and well as my point of reference for the rest of Stubby's features.
Stubby has rich features, contrasts and color. I enjoyed painting his spots, keeping them clear but with soft edges. His sun bleached coat added reds and lighter browns to his coloring. Once I felt like Stubby was close to completion I painted in the background of blues and browns to visually give the painting a sense of cohesiveness.

"Sir" Stubby II

I was fortunate to receive two portrait commissions of Stubby. This second portrait features him in an outdoor setting with the lighting enhancing Stubby's darker coat. (The reference photo I used was taken at a different time period from his first portrait). Stubby looks free and full of energy, as though he stopped running in the fields just long enough to have his photo taken.
Stage 1: Drawing and blocking in the subject and creating the composition. Working a landscape into the composition made this an interesting challenge. I didn't want the background to over power the dog. I intentionally kept the edges soft.

"Sir" Stubby II
8 x 10", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson

Stage 2: Completing the portrait. Putting Stubby in the great outdoors makes this portrait unique from the first one.
 Having his mouth open also sets this one apart. I enjoyed painting in the fall colors and hints of water from a creek. The gold flecks in his eyes reflects the color around him. The browns and golds throughout the painting tied the colors in to each other.

As usual, I am always pleased when I have completed a commission(s) but just a little bit sad too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Commissioned Dog Portrait: Buster

I am enjoying the pet portraits I have been working on lately. This is an adorable guy named Buster. Buster's commission will be a surprise birthday gift for his owner.

Buster
10 x 8", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson
Stage 1: The composition. With a thin wash made up of burnt umber oil paint and mineral spirits, using a small tipped brush (#2), I loosely drew in Buster freehand.
Stage 2: Blocking in the first layer of color, the underpainting. The background as well as the hi-lights were inspired by the warm, yellow lighting.
Completion of the underpainting. I added touches of deep blue for interest.
Stage 3: Completing the portrait. After I had painted (blocked) in the first layer I took my time painting this final stage. Buster had a lot of personality and I wanted to share that with the viewer.

Each portrait commission is enjoyable and unique with its own story. The one thing they all have in common is the love of the portrait subject as well as its recipient.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Formal Portrait: Business Portrait, Part 3

The hardest part about a portrait like this is setting down the paintbrush and walking away. There are so many aspects of it that I want to study and analyse. For now its time to let it "rest" for a couple of weeks and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes. Adjustments will be made then for the final completion.

David P. Kunstle
30 x 24, Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson




Stage 6: Blocking in the hands with a first layer of paint. As with everything else, I try to look at the hands as shapes  instead of palms, thumbs and fingers, squinting my eyes to generalize form, shadow and light.  For me, painting hands can become very mental. Fear often sets in and then I freeze up, questioning every step of the process. And then I start talking to myself. "Trust your instincts. Remain calm and keep painting!"


Stage 7: Completing the hands and pants. After the hands I focused on the pants. This was a perfect time to paint them since my wet edges would work right into the fresh paint of the hands and blend much easier.
 Stage 8: Blocking in the background. I looked at the background as one piece. I started from the top and worked my way down placing the first layer of paint as precisely as I could so that my second and final layer would be easier.
 
Stage 9:  Completing the background. While the first layer was still wet I kept going and added the details of the second and final layer. I wish you could see it in person. Right now the paint is very wet and so it was hard to photograph clearly. Please check my website in a few weeks to see the completed portrait.