Hard or Soft

“Jeweled Earrings – (hard edge – initial painting) ” 12×16 Oil by Winifred Whitfield

I wanted to do something different – something a bit impressionist looking. I did an easy sketch from imagination (no face) to create a practice painting. First the background was painted using short parallel brush strokes and transparent paint. My palette contained a rainbow of analogous colors which I could quickly dip into to paint it. The brushstrokes were rather random/abstract having no predetermined elements to paint. Ultimately I used lots of short curved parallel strokes. The background became rather interesting. I blocked in the figure with color in a simple fashion. The next day, that first paint layer was “tacky,” as opposed to wet or dry, and the painting was ready for a second layer of paint. I always love painting draped shawls and scarfs a well as designing jewelry to adorn my figures. I created a hairstyle somewhat similar to a friends, but not really! When it came to the background, I decided not to add a second layer because I knew this would substantially change the colors, and tone and I liked the colors and tones as they were. I convinced myself it finished and fine and hung it on the wall to observe and critique – I liked it. After a few hours of admiration, I said to my self – “go forth and experiment- no one is awaiting this painting – lets change it!” I am proud of my willingness to do that. I can remember when that would not be a consideration. Below: I wanted to create an alternate to the hard edged version.

“Jeweled Earrings – (soft edged – second painting) ”

I did this by feathering edges, blending strokes and by creating little soft abstract brushstrokes by allowing the brush to “dance”. When comparing the two, side by side, I prefer the first. It’s dramatic and the colors are luscious and royal. When not comparing, however, I enjoy the soft strokes and feathered texture of the painting which actually remains. Since I had no reference for this painting, deciding my color palette was a bit of a challenge, The shawl was changed, the scarf was eliminated.

It’s a new painting and thus far, it remains. I think you prefer the initial version – not sure. I think I prefer it. It reminds me of tapestry. This was an important exercise – at least instructive. The hardest part of posting these images is my inability to get the colors and tone and texture to actually look like the painting. I try. Thank you for sharing my journey – I so love it.

I must say that I’m so sad about the invasion of Ukraine.

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Little Girls

“Girl with Large Starfish” 16×20 Oil Painting by Winifred

This is my 4th attempt to create this painting as one I’m satisfied with. Really, three full repaintings. Hopefully this will be the last version. It was inspired on a tour of a major museum in Mexico. While walking the corridors, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a little Asian girl kneeling in the sand observing a small starfish. I excitedly thought “I have that photo”- not actually “that photo” – but a photo I took about 15 years ago of a different little girl squatting in the sand, observing a LARGE starfish. It was in fact so very large that I made it substantially smaller to create balance in the painting. This painting has gone through quite a few iterations. I hope it comes to rest in this version – though I do see a little something I might change!! Below – a different little girl.

Little Mexican Girl 8×10 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

So, we’ve gone from the museum in Mexico to the little Mexican girl who lives in Washington State. This was one of my first portrait oil paintings, painted about 4 years ago. I love the layers of color and texture and her pretty dark curls. She actually wore a red dress – hence my first layer of color. I remember how terrified she was when ask to stand apart from her parents for the photo. She is looking at them for reassurance.

Hope you enjoy the children – I don’t paint children nearly as often as I paint adults. Have a great weekend! Winifred

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Just Breezy

Just Breezy Oil Painting 12×16 by Winifred Whitfield

As she posed for an outdoor portrait, there occurred a gentle breeze which wrapped her hair and some of it’s fine strands about her face. I liked it and clicked the shutter, having no idea that years later it would become the oil portrait you are viewing. The wind was my friend.

Have a wonderful week. Winifred

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Her Head on His Shoulder

Head on His Shoulder 1 – 12×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

They paused for just a moment. He put his arm around her shoulder and she tilted her head toward him. That was the tenderest moment of all the moments I observed and photographed. Years of creating and capturing special moments has sensitized me to what might come and to be ready for it. I altered the environment on both of these paintings – this one and the one below. There were too many distractions in the actual environment. These paintings appear more “fanciful”, than my normal figurative style but its fun. Below, is a second version.

Her Head on His Shoulder 2 – 16×20 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

For some reason, I decided to paint a second of this same image. This second painting is 16×20, the first I painted is 12×12. I do like the square format. I don’t really paint trees. It’s a struggle. So, at best I invent a facsimile. I can actually paint a photographic looking tree but I don’t want to do that. My stylized trees need lots of practice. The figures in the first painting are more accurate in their pose – not that it matters. So long as I have a paintbrush moving in my hand, I’m moving forward. Have a wonderful week. Hope you enjoy and hope you and your loved ones are vaccinated. Winifred

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Long Gold Earrings

Long Gold Earrings, Oil Painting 11×14 by Winifred Whitfield

I have a room in my house where I can pull back a sliver of a “black out curtain” and in this otherwise darkened room, the light acts like an intense spot light. I love to use this effect in creating dramatically lit portraits. Whether in photography or paintings the effect is called Chiaroscura. “Chiaro” meaning “clear or bright”, “Scura” meaning “dark or to obscure”. Both DaVinci and Carravaggio made this single light effect famous as a way to create great depth and dimension in their art which was most often monotone. The term has become diluted to generally mean artwork with great contrast. I modified my single light effect by turning on, what by contrast was a dim ceiling light. This added warm highlights to part of her hair and the side of her face – an image otherwise lit by cool daylight.

Well, the next painting will be very different, very colorful with an impressionist twist to it. Stay tuned. Have a great week. Winifred

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Lady in Orange

Lady in Orange – Oil Painting 14×20 by Winifred Whitfield

This is my first post of the new year and it was an enjoyable portrait to paint. I selected the photo reference from a collection I photographed a few months ago. I chose this reference because her soft but direct gaze. This painting is on a surface I never used before. It’s on a paper made specifically for oil paints. Paper has long been considered acceptable and durable if on archival surface , though normally it has to be treated/primed to protect if from oil. The paper I used for this painting was purchased “ready to paint”, though I added additional layers of primmer protection. This paper provided a different painting experience both in terms of brush responsiveness and the look of the painting. It also gives a different look to the image as you see it posted. It’s just another option and I’m sure I will use this surface again. This painting can now be mounted to hard board and framed.

View and enjoy – comments are DISABLED. I hope you have a healthy and creative 2022. Winifred

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Once Again

Abundance Oil Painting 12×12 by Winifred

Once again we celebrate our respective holidays – gatherings of family, joy, peace – or not! And once again, I’ve reworked this painting! I’ve been at it off and on for 4 years now. Recently, I even sanded down much of the bottom and lower right. I sanded back to the white of the panel. Notice how lustrous those grapes look on the right side. Painting layers of transparent color over a white board gives you the brightest most intense and reflective translucent color. Applying opaque colors is beautiful also – it just depends on the look you want to achieve. I added the bit of cloth and fringe. The bit of white livens the painting over all. I wanted to leave the foliage loose and abstract, though it received a touch up as well.

Italian Woman in Window Oil Painting 11×14 by Winifred Whitfield

I can still remember the moment I photographed the lady in the window. She saw me looking at her. I motioned to the camera and looked back up at her – my way of asking permission. I remember that moment of connection with her. She nodded yes, gave me a warm smile – even waved. I wanted “the wave” in the painting but her arm and hand were positioned so awkwardly – I couldn’t make it work.

Below: This is a first time I painted a barn, trees, a field of grass. It was fun. I enjoyed it so much in fact, I painted it twice!

Barn and Farm 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I didn’t like the trees I painted initially so I sanded down that part of my painting. I used an electric sanding machine rather than a sanding block – I was aggressive. I was pleasantly surprised when my trees were were immediately simplified and had a level of abstraction. Artist frequently say that removing paint is as important as putting it on. This is an example and I need to employ this as a technique more often rather than as a last resort. In 2022, my only resolution will be to sand off more paint.

I wishing you the best during this holiday season. Winifred

Flutterby Butterfly

Flutterby Butterfly Oil Painting 16×16 by Winifred Whitfield

It’s been years since I photographed this beautiful and dramatic ballerina in my garden. I love the animated and graceful hands, and the tilt of the head. I always saw her as a butterfly and the words I used to title this come to me whenever I see this image. I worked with very limited range of colors in this painting, as opposed to the reference image colors of intense greens in the garden and the red of her attire and garden flowers in the background. These colors are subdued and unusual for me but prevent the distraction of colors too bright and saturated when I wanted to express delicacy.

Below: There is Greek Mythology that speaks to half man/half horse. I know nothing about it actually, but that doesn’t keep me from making an effort toward the artistic concept.

Half Man Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I took a photo of a friend. It was one of those perfect photos in its emotion, lighting, design, impact – everything. I didn’t feel I could improve on it by painting it in a conservative way, so I decided to just play and experiment; I proceeded.

I selected a panel to paint on which already had a painting on it. The colors were intense – turquoise, deep yellows, orange – you get the drift. I sanded it to smooth it a bit. Selecting a panel with a prior painting on it positions that painting to be an underlying paint layer. This allows that color to come through from time to time, creating color variation which otherwise would not occur. This can work well, creating some nice color surprises. I started by painting his eyes. They are distinctive and very emotional eyes – much like puppy dog eyes. Then I started to apply animated and colorful brushstrokes. Even with all the crazy brushwork and color applied, I noticed that the eyes remained dominant. When I finally stopped, I felt uncertain. I sat it aside and looked at it from time to time. It grew on me. It is colorful, energetic and unusual. The figure is recognizable to its owners and they love it. It’s those eyes! The painted image made me think of the Greek Mythology images of half man/half horse, which we’ve all seen – referred to as Centaurs and Chiron.

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed creating both paintings. It’s pretty apparent I enjoy painting in wildly diverse manners. These are pretty much complete opposites.

I wish you and your family a HEALTHY holiday season. I hope you’re vaccinated and wearing a mask. Happy Holidays, Winifred

Woman in Need

Woman in Need Oil Painting 9×12 by Winifred Whitfield

I’ve had an eye on this image to paint for quite a few years now. It’s a full body photo with lots of outdoor space around her and cold gray skies. I hadn’t decided how I wanted to handle the design or painting of the environment. Finally I decided to just crop it. That’s where the story is anyway and the crop made the painting stronger. It was my fasted portrait painting ever. I would like to think it was so much faster because I’m so much better, but the truth is that when there are no eyes to paint no ears to paint, and overall very little in the way of a face to paint – the painting is so much easier to complete.

You might wonder why I am showing the painting in such a skewed manner. I didn’t really want to but I’ve been affected by something that happened recently. Essentially, I was contacted by a woman in Philadelphia – across the country from where I live, who let me know that she saw one of my images framed and on the wall of a restaurant in a town near her and was interested in this print. My name was on it she said and she searched for me. I was confused. I had not sold any such painting or print to anyone on the East coast. In fact, I don’t sell prints. Ultimately, I came to understand that someone took a posted image printed it, framed it and put it in the restaurant. It’s pretty hard to keep this from happening. I thought that if I skew my images a bit, that might dissuade a few people from stealing, but probably not. I knew you could still see and appreciate the painting even posted in this distorted fashion. Please let me know if that is not the case.

Below is the image that ended up on the restaurant wall. I like it also. They are so cute! It’s one of my very first oil paintings 4 1/2 years ago. I remember so well taking the photo reference while in Italy. Perhaps I should have skewed it in this post!

Three Friends Walking – Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Well, that’s my story. Have a great weekend. Winifred

Photographing the Photographer

Crown of Locks – 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I was walking in Greenwich Village, New York a few years ago when I spotted a young man photographing his client.This photographer had, an interesting and creative lock hair style. I wanted to photograph him. He was working but I was hopeful he would allow a brief intrusion – just a couple shots of him. He smiled and permitted me to do so. I attempted this painting once before, in color and in a more conventional style. Ultimately, I didn’t like it and sanded it down to reuse the panel. That was probably 4 years ago. This is a new version. So far, I’m liking it, though as always, I’m always prone to make changes.

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