I took the photo seven or eight years ago. I was struck by it. I liked the naturalness of the pose the light, and of course loved the wildflower she held. In the reference image, she sat in a brightly sunlit grassy field of yellow and gold. Her jacket was turquoise. The content and composition was calming but overall the reference image was too bright and the jacket, though pretty, the turquoise was too distracting. I decided to see if I could make the reference image work as a painting. I sketched an outline of the face and jacket. instead of a sunlit yellow/gold field I painted the background a solid brown/black and the jacket a light gray green. I painted her face overall a golden brown. I now had a subdued block-in of shapes and colors I could work with. I then painted jacket details and a a few details in the background to reflect a grassy environment. Finally, I painted her face and the bright cool toned highlights, finally adding the little wildflower she held to her nose. Now, many years after the photo was taken this memory will remain alive in a form I can enjoy.
I can usually come up with a title which I consider relevant or at least okay, sometimes even clever – but not today. This painting is not quite finished. When thoroughly dry, I will sand it in some areas and make more to my liking. The problem I struggle with – as you know, is that I spent so many years smoothing and blending skin digitally, that anything less than smooth is difficult for me accept as good work. It’s interesting that the whole Impressionist movement was a rebellion against the artist training in the European academies requirement for the mastery of smooth blended skin in paintings – in fact smooth blended everything. I was just born in the wrong century.
So, this is it for today. I am now going to paint grapes perhaps grapes and tangerines. I have no propensity to smooth fruit! Hope all is well. Winifred
She’s a lovely ballerina – and I’m sure this painting will be appreciated. There were, however, many challenges in creating this painting. The reference image was photographed using a wide angle setting with a phone camera. That introduced substantial distortion and error in perspective. It was difficult to use as a painting reference. It’s pretty easy to correct perspective distortion in buildings but not so much in a posed ballerina with curves. I know because I tried.
In the reference photo, the ballerina wore black posed in front of very colorful and boldly graphic wall. It looked like a fun “Senior Photo”. The lighting was flat. I wanted something softer and wanted to introduce energy and movement. As always, as soon as I get a little distance from the painting, a few more changes will likely be made. This is my first attempt to paint a ballerina – I’m sure not the last. Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred
Just scroll back 5 or 6 post back and you will see a different version this painting. This painting is from the same reference image as before – except previously, I painted faster and looser. You may recall she had red and yellow “butterflies” in her hair and a black background. I decided to make some changes. Initially the changes were intended to be minimal and I was only tidying up – which is not a good thing. (Someone once told me that finalizing a painting is not “house keeping” – you are not to “tidy up”, which usually results in overworking a painting and taking life from it). That sounds like something I would do. However, once I got started making things “more tidy” I became pretty obsessed and created a complete repainting and “over working” of the painting. My eternal struggle – I revert to a very realistic portrayal. At this point, I can’t determine if it’s better or worse – hopefully just different. Anyway, it’s gone.
In this version of the painting, the face and features are more realistic but I’ve also altered the entire color palette, which is not easy. In the reference photograph, she wore a black dress and had a red and black background. I used this for a workshop I hosted. When you have a red background, red will bounce all over – affecting her skin, her hair and attire. I didn’t want that super saturated red color throughout the image – not for this portrait. I wanted a color palette more neutral. I altered her skin tones, and then came the challenge of creating a background. Initially I painted the background a solid color – basically the same hue as her attire and the coolness of her skin tone. It was quite boring. What to do? Using some thickened paint. I painted the background more violet and then started to make some small dark”swirls” reminding me of brocade fabric. I thought that was okay, certainly better than the previous plain background – so I stayed with that. The repainting had come to an end. You may notice the two moles on her face. The rule is, that if a mark is going to be gone in 6 months, don’t put in in, If it’s going to be more permanent, include it. For sure, most moles are there to stay and they look just fine and don’t detract from her attractiveness. I’m happy to put this down – for good – hopefully.
I didn’t get to work on my floral painting which I abandoned last week but I’m really looking forward to doing so. I hope you’re having a good weekend. Winifred
There are so many ways to create an oil painting – so many possibilities of expression. Although I redid this painting, I wouldn’t say it was bad before but I came not to enjoy viewing it. That creates the perfect opportunity alter the vision and to explore different techniques. If I still don’t enjoy it, I can always sand down the painting and paint over it. Backgrounds are always challenging. They can be very simple with a solid color or they can be as complex as the painter desires and can visualize it. After repainting his face, which I prefer, I started to play with some rather abstract marks in the background. I decided they resembled tree branches – not really but kind of. I added some lighter warm tones in the spaces between the “branches as though warm light was coming through and that was that. The background is likely to be painted again in the future. Time will tell. I have to look at things for a while. It could take weeks or months for me to decide. For sure, I would like the background better if I sanded it down a bit, making it fainter helping to move it further into the distance. In a month or so when it’s dryer, I will at least sand it. Below is the previous version of this painting. He’s shroud in darkness. That’s an acceptable style of painting but it was bothering me, so I changed it.
It was a worthwhile exercise. But I didn’t stop with portrait practice, I attempted a floral as well. After spending more than 15 hours on the painting below, I have already scraped the process and scrapped off the paint. My flowers are no more! I’m looking forward to my next floral attempt and this time I’ll use a reference. It was a freehand effort. I would have done much better if I had I been working from a photo or vase of flowers. What I do like is the brushwork and texture.
I also enjoyed the behavior of the paint. It handled quite differently from paint straight from the tube. I made a safe mixture of calcium carbonate and oil to add to the paint which altered it’s handling properties. Overall, I played with colors, texture and paint handling. What fun! Mainly, I didn’t like the shape of the flowers.
It’s so cold here – unusually cold for us. It’s been in the low teens the last couple of days. I’m using more heat but otherwise fine. I hope you’re warm and comfortable wherever you are. Bye for now. Winifred
Happy New Year everyone! It certainly *promises not to be boring. This is my first painting of the New Year. The same model as with the last two paintings. I enjoy this portrait. I rarely use such vivid color in my portrait paintings and love the loose energetic strokes in the scarf.
I keep thinking I’d like to paint a floral still life. We’ll see. I’ve also been taking some prior portraits to the studio to make changes. Some things one sees more correctly over time. Sometimes I’m just veering toward adding more detail because that’s who I am. I feel that I’m “correcting” it, whereas in fact I’m just adding more detail and should leave it alone. This is an ongoing struggle for me.
Wishing you health and happiness amidst the chaos. Winifred
I hope you’re having joyous holidays, or quiet and peaceful ones as you choose.The New Year is upon us and as I said before, I wish only for Peace on Earth. Oil painting will of course continue to play a huge role in my life – ever striving to deepen my skills and allowing for increased flow of creativity.
The reference image for this painting was created in the same photo session as in my last post. I draped her for this photo to add interest. I like the traditional looking period style of it. I’m currently painting another photo from her shoot but I remained troubled when viewing it – meaning more work to do. It’s good to take a good break. Hopefully, it will be my next post.
Happy New Year! I sincerely wish you the best year ever. Winifred
Initially I created a painting without significant deviation from the reference photo. She was a lovely model. She wore an olive green velvet spaghetti strap dress. Her hair was cropped chin length. It was a flattering cut for her. The background was plain. Upon finishing this version of the painting, I looked at it and found it to be such an unimaginative painting. I had added nothing. I wasn’t sure what to do but this first version was unacceptable. Before starting a new version of the painting, I went into Photoshop and began to play with possible changes in colors, attire, background and even her hair style. I developed a new vision. I then went back to my easel. I don’t know just how to describe this style of painting, but for me it expresses more of what I want to see in my portraits. Modern portraits and photographic looking portraits really don’t appeal to me even when they’re colorful and full of energy and well done. I’m attracted to the Old Masters, their color palette and their techniques. This painting was pretty complex because ultimately, it’s pretty difficult to create a painting when I’ve decided NOT to follow the reference photo. I do enjoy this painting now.
I am so excited that I’ve figured out how to take a decent photo of my paintings with the iPhone. I have 13 Pro Max and it has Adobe Camera Raw. I can make my own adjustments and I have altered iPhones automatic settings to eliminate the sharpening and contrast the iPhone was imposing on my paintings. I should have figured this out long ago. What a difference it makes and you won’t have to hear me complain any longer.
The last thing I’ll say is that these wars cause me great pain. Truly. Hope you’re enjoying your holidays. Winifred
I was introduced to this lady by the Master Gardener’s of Kitsap County Calendar Committee in 2006 when I photographed a calendar for the Master Gardeners as a fund raising activity. It was one of those “pretend to be nude” calendars – so long ago. One of the great things that occurred during the process is that the County, or perhaps the State governing body was less than pleased with this calendar concept and require a “BANNED” sticker to be placed on it. Boy, did that increase sales! We had so much fun and raised so much money. As we ended the project, I ask the calendar committee if they knew anyone who would like to have a beautiful portrait created. They all suggested this woman. They spoke of her beauty and elegance. It was true. The photo was 3/4 body length and had a wonderful background by virtue of using what was known as a Virtual Background Machine. I created a large photographic wall portrait for her. She was very pleased. I used only her head as my reference for my painting. I’ll see if I can’t find her to let her see it.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I have lots of smoked turkey left. I wish you health and happiness. Winifred
A soft yet dramatic portrait – I created the feathered look from what was actually ruffles. I wanted to bring a bit of energy to the quiet look. This portrait was challenging, as is always the case, taking days to paint. But then I allowed myself to have the fun – stepped in vivid color and avoiding detail I was able to quickly paint the floral sketch below.
I call it a sketch because it is quite unfinished but that didn’t matter. I do love the fact that in this sketch I am able to convey a “bouquet of ROSES” with very few petals apparent. They say in painting “less is more”. That’s a hard lesson for a detailed oriented painter as I am – though struggling to overcome. In fact, I still thought I should add a second layer of paint when this initial layer dried a bit, just to add some details – but then I thought NO! Leave it! It was just fun and I did enjoy quickly putting down loose shapes of color, light and dark, and have it turn out not too bad – though the shadow is not very good.
Well have a warm and happy holiday and safe travels. I want these wars to be over. That’s my holiday wish. Winifred