I’m finding that when I allow young children to pose themselves, they often do a remarkable job. I love his adorable pose. There aren’t words to instruct him to do this. The fact is, I was shooting a wedding 18 years ago, when I saw him. I ask him if I could photographed him. I saved this image in a special folder for that long – the folder is titled “portraits to be painted”.
Famous and brilliant artist Richard Schmidt said that one should always place a spot of red somewhere in a painting. That’s why, I added the little red label looking thing on his sleeve. I didn’t want to make it too red but the color spot does make a difference. Most of the time – I forget. Hope you enjoy. Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred
Yes, again, this painting was created without an initial sketch. I may want to rethink that. In painting a portrait, one of the most important things is to get proportions correct and to get features in the right place and accurate. That’s not easy. Take a look below and how this painting began. Nothing is quite in the right place in my first paint layer. The eyes have not been painted at all.
The good news is that the hair and background I liked from the very start. I didn’t know this would be my final background but I desired no change to it. It only required some vision of the colors I wanted as an under painting, painted primarily to cover the white of the canvas. I used quick loose brush marks and it was done. Then I tried for a general shape of the face and some quick brush marks in the general shape of her hair and mostly I never touched the hair again. Can you imagine, taking a brush and going “swish, swish, swish and something is finished. These are the kind of energetic brushstrokes I love. Such loose energetic strokes are lost if I were to keep redoing and tweaking them. They’d go flat and stale. That part of the first paint layer was easy. I ended my first night. I’m always excited for the next paint session when I awake the next day, because I know exactly what I have to do – even though I know suffering will now commence.
Typically, I create four or 5 paint layers to complete a portrait. Many times, it’s even more. Portraits are hard to paint. I’ve ask myself why I love painting portraits since they require such lengthy and complex processes and can be quite tedious. It is all very complicated but I am obsessed! I decided that what keeps me going is that in the end, there is this beautiful portrait which was born out of chaos and I feel proud of this. Often the next day, after I thought my portrait was finished, I return it to the easel and work on it for another 10 hours or for several days to come. As time passes and with fresh vision, there is a process of seeing it anew, wanting to make yet another change – until finally you don’t make more changes and then it is finished. Actually, and unfortunately, that’s what happens most of the time. It’s that way for most painters, so I’m in good company.
For a couple years, Ive watched a YouTube series called “Portrait Artist of the Year”. It has been filmed in several European English speaking countries. It starts with 8 portrait artist and is whittled down to the winner -the “Portrait Artist of the Year” receives a $10.000.00 commission to paint some actor, musician or other artistically famous person. The artist competing include both professional artist and non-professional artist. During this competition, the artist has to create their paintings in 4 hours. Of course, everyone is freaked out, but everyone has the same disadvantage. Importantly to me, they all say the same thing. They say they can typically cover the canvas with paint in one day or several hours, but to actually COMPLETE a painting to their satisfaction, usually tales 3 weeks to several months. So you see, that’s really how it is. I was happy to hear this. The long period needed to complete the portrait is because of the need to “refresh” your eyes, and often your artistic vision – it’s a process that can not occur working continuously, its a process which requires time and space.
So many words today. Hope I haven’t bored you. I’m trying to cover my disappointment and sadness. Yet another mass shooting and women’s rights have been pushed back by 50 years. What’s happening in this country is horrifying. Right to Life and AR 15’s standing hand in hand – what a joke! And don’t get me started on Trump! Have a good weekend.
When painting a portrait, I have always used one of several methods to help ensure I create a likeness when working from a reference image. There is the process of using a grid, where one places lines on the reference image and lines on the painting support and then transfers image information from the reference image to the canvas to be painted. One can use tracing paper to transfer lines and shapes onto their painting surface. One can project the image onto the painting surface and then sketch the image projected. None of these methods are fool proof because once one starts applying paint on the surface, it is so easy to obscure the lines and shapes you have sketched, but one can generally approximate their intent approximation is generally not good enough and one often struggles to get portrait features correct. Ultimately, I found these methods to be obstacles to creativity because of the tediousness of relying on those lines.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve completely abandoned the use of these aids and I am very proud of that. Finally, I am completely confident that I can pick up my brush, start to paint and achieve the level of detail and expressiveness I want with out aids. It’s very liberating. I no longer attempt any kind if outline sketch. I begin with a large brush making loose strokes on a medium toned painted surface. I begin with a solid shape of the head and hair and work backwards adding and subtracting brushstrokes to obtain the details of the portrait. I can be as loose in this process as I choose. The featured image in this blog was created this way along with the second image in the last blog. There is no part of the process which constrains my mind or hand – suggesting that I “color within the lines”. It’s quite liberating.
When painting digitally and painting from imagination , I often did this kind of freehand painting so I knew I had some facility in this regard, but my confidence was not as great when it came to oil painting – and creating an actual portrait likeness. I’ve demonstrated to myself my capacity to creates portraits this way and it’s actually more enjoyable.
It’s been really difficult for me to create post during the past few weeks in the midst of ongoing mass murders – so I didn’t. I had to just stop posting for a while. I painted because that’s soothing but creating post/adjusting images to look like the paintings is a different matter. I enjoyed creating the two versions of this painting. I love the color and elegance of the painting above. I enjoy the texture and energy of the painting below. The fact is I enjoy both very much. This lady is the mom of the little blonde curly head girl with the teddy bear I’ve painted recently a few times prior.
I am compelled to say, I am a gun owner but I think we need to ban AR 15’s and similar assault, mass murder, weapons of war – temporarily or otherwise. No one has been able to identify any other purpose for them other than for mass murder.
She’s very smart, creative and hopeful for an accomplished and exciting future, but will she be allowed to have one? It’s unfortunate that this innocent child must bear witness to yet another violent act of racism in this country – the slaughter of 10 Black people in Buffalo NY shopping in a grocery store. This act, he said, was encouraged by concept of “the replacement theory”, rhetoric espoused by many Republican leaders and particularly embraced by and fed to the public by media mogul Rupert Murdock’s puppet Tucker Carlson on Fox News. It’s so sad! What is this theory? It offers that Jews and other people of color, “who are more obedient” are seeking to replace white people, the rightful owners of this country, to become the majority population and dominant voting block. The “replacement theory” offers that the “seeking” population needs to be silenced, subjugated and eliminated. According the killer, and his manifesto, it is this concept he was supporting by murdering the 10 Black people. He said he did not want Black people to feel safe anywhere.
I hope this beautiful little girl can have a long and prosperous future.
Initially I didn’t really notice how complex the reference photo was for this painting. This is particularly important since tend to get caught in the detail. Painting a full body, including face, two hands, two feet, curly hair, a teddy and a bookcase represents quite a lot of elements to try to get “right”. The head alone could constitute a full painting – so, this painting took a really, really long time
I do like this painting quite a lot, though I can still see changes I need to make. I continue the process of observation and making changes until one morning, I look at the painting freshly and I am content.
This little girl is such an amazing and sophisticated “model” for a three year old; in fact she is a substantially better model than many adults. She has a real sense of “creating poses” for a camera – real poses with authentic expressions. What a joy she was to work with. Hope you enjoy.
Will Smith banned from the Oscars for 10 years! YEAHHH! Banned forever would have been good too!
I love it when I can visualize a finished painting before I even create a reference photo for it. I was given a beautiful long shawl with a Native American design on it for Christmas. A couple weeks ago a friend came to visit who is Native American. I would photograph her wrapped in that shawl. I knew where I would seat her, how I would light her, how I would drape her. She was unusually comfortable with this process. After I seated her, she posed herself, with no help from me at all. She turned her head to the side and dropped her gaze. I clicked. I was amazed as I viewed the camera image. It was exactly what I wanted and the expression was PERFECT! “How did you know to do that?” I asked. She replied that when she was in high school, her photos were always better when she turned her head to the side and didn’t look straight into the camera. I took a few more shots – just because… but I selected that first “magical” image.
In the painting, the shawl is altered from the original pattern design, though inspired by it. The shawl colors are also substantially more colorful. I enjoy paintings whether with desaturated color or brightly colored, though I must say it was a joy to create all the color in this painting. The shawl actually stopped just below her elbows, leaving her forearms exposed. To create additional arm coverage, full ruffled cuffs were added, creating another visual element and texture. I hope you enjoy.
What a week. I feel great pride in the performance of and accomplishments of Ketanji Jackson Brown as she continues the confirmation process as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice. I continue to be jarred by the war.
For the past 20 years, starting with photography, then digital painting and oil painting, I am drawn to portraiture and figurative art. Portraiture grants the opportunity to create a “portrayal”, of an individual with the potential range of human emotions – be it joy, serenity, sadness or despair. One who commissions an individual or family portrait, normally wants to be flattered in their representation, as well as recognizable, all of which requires technique and precision. It’s something I work at all the time. I think the bulk of portraits painted are art portraits, portraits which have not been commissioned but are painted by the artist for art sake, to strengthen technique or to express a story. I am fortunate to do both.
I’ve seen many portrait painting styles from artist which I greatly admire. You know the thinking, “I wish I could paint like that”. Well, I’ve finally accepted that the only and best artist I can be is to paint like is ME and that will always be a work in progress.
Someone said that to achieve mastery in anything requires 10,000 efforts. With respect to oil painting, I have about 9,800 portrait paintings to go, so… I’d better get cracking!
Much has been made of the portrait of Michelle Obama painted by artist Amy Sherald in 2018. The discussion, primarily has been, Does the portrait look like Michelle Obama. The significance to me is that portraits are not required to look “exactly” like a person in order to portray who they are. I found a short and very interesting video featuring the artist Amy Sherald, Michelle Obama’s artist for her portrait created for the National Portrait Gallery. I think you will enjoy.