Follow my Blog by Email

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 7

Its late and I'm tired, but I really wanted to get this post in before the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. I took painting breaks today to make cornbread for the stuffing, a pie crust, and then a pumpkin pie.

Stage 18: Painting the background. I started first by blocking in the main shapes of color on the bush behind Steve and Patty.
Stage 19: Continuing with the background. Knowing that the paint would still be wet from working on the bush last night, I got up early this morning and continued so that the paint would still be workable, wet-on-wet. From there I kept going, blocking in the light green behind the tree and then doing the tree and branches last. I love the light; its everywhere in this painting. And it always amazes me the way a background can  dramatically change the dynamics of a portrait(s).
 To my readers in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 6

At last, I am here, working on Laurel, the final figure in this family portrait. Completing a figure a week in this painting at times seemed like a lofty goal when I have had multiple projects going on at the same time. But I did it and am so happy to be at this point. Relieved, really.

Stage 14: Painting Laurel's face. I used the same method of working wet-on-wet as I did with the other family members. Working on one subject after another with the same light source allowed me to get a similar approach going with each of them. I thought this would help me get faster with each one but it didn't. It still took me a similar amount of strokes and problem solving moments to get the features just right and the lighting and colors accurate. Because Laurel was standing closer to the camera, I had to adjust her size to fit in with the composition. Reference photos are helpful but not accurate when it comes to size and proportions. The camera lens had made her unrealistically larger than the rest.

Stage 15: Painting the red dress. If you follow the visual progression of Laurel's dress in these next few photos, you can see how I blocked in the shapes of the shadows and light with large simple strokes of color.

Stage 15...continued. The light, shadows and folds create visual movement in her dress.

Loading my brush with nice, thick paint (about the consistency of mayonnaise) and creating the final effects of light on the front of her dress was so much fun. I love being able to see the brush strokes. It is entertaining to the viewer.

While the paint was still fresh, I took a deep breath and painted her delicate necklace and its shadows.
Stage 16And then from there it was time to paint her arms and hands. Once again, the jewelry added so much to this composition. Eye catching details...yes!

Stage 17: Painting Laurel's legs, feet and sandals. I kept adding more color to her legs and then decided to hold off and not do any more until the background is painted in. Then, adjustments will be made to everyone I'm sure.
Painting in the background will add an entirely new dimension to this group portrait. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 5

Kelly was the next in line to be painted in this colorful family portrait.

Stage 11: Painting Kelly's face. This tonal method of painting a portrait was first introduced to me during a David Leffel portrait class at the Andreeva Portrait Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Even though I was painting from a live model then, I still use this approach when working from a reference photo. Getting this first thin layer of paint down familiarizes me with the shape of the face and the features.
After the under painting was done but still wet, I came back in with a thicker layer of paint that I had mixed to represent Kelly's skin color.

Once the basic skin color was applied, I added additional color. Pinks, blues, yellows...Kelly has beautiful undertones in her skin that enhances not only her, but the painting.
Once Kelly's face and neck were complete I enjoyed painting the gorgeous light in her hair.
Stage 12: Painting the dress. And then it was time for her fun dress and belt. I used the same approach as before of blocking in her dress with the solid color and then while the paint was still wet I went in with yellows to catch the hi-lights and dark greens and browns to capture the shadows.
This belt was a fun treat.
Stage 13After the dress it was time for her legs and arms. Details like the sandals (and belt) add interest as well as a historical reference to the fashion of this time period.
And here I am, at last, with four subjects down and only one to go! When I first started this painting it seemed like it would be "forever and a day" to get to this point. Now it feels like it is going quickly.
 Laurel is next!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Family Portrait Painting: Part 4

Stage 8: Painting Sarah's face and hair. When I'm painting a group portrait where the individuals are this small even a fraction of an inch in any direction can make such a difference in capturing a likeness. With Sarah's dark brown, distinctively shaped eyebrows, I knew that accuracy was important. I'm not convinced that I have them just right; time will tell after I take a break and then look at them again later. 

Stage 9 and 10: Painting Sarah's clothes and then her arms and legs. I forgot to photograph stage 9 when I painted her clothing. I really enjoyed the bright yellow blouse and vibrant orange-red skirt; they added drama to the painting. The morning light enhanced their folds and draping. When painting her arms and legs(stage 10), my concentration was on color, form and light. There were nice pink and blue tones to her skin. I'm pretty happy with most of the outer edges but will work on them more when I do the background.

Sometimes its fun to see sections of the painting close-up. I love adding details like the watch and bracelets. They are not only fun to paint but they also give us hints about Sarah's personality. They become part of the story.

The simple detail of the shimmery button on her blouse added a nice touch to the composition.
Kelly, you are next.