I often get such wonderful photographs when I visit New York. It was a gallery opening which brought me to New York on this occasion 10 years ago. Art Wolfe, an internationally known artist based in the Seattle, was showing an an amazing body of work. He had allowed me to work on the project a couple days, a participation I will never forget. I didn’t want to miss this ultimate show.
While moving about and chatting with many people I knew, I spotted a very interesting and attractive young woman. I ask her if I could photograph her. In New York most people like to be photographed. It’s a positive form of recognition. The desire to be an actor or model is very strong. Immediately she said “yes” and struck a pose. She wore an dress with only one sleeve. The other arm and shoulder were fully exposed and fully tattooed. Chains hung from her attire in many places. Her wore heavy eye make up. I knew these photos would be fun to work with some day. The “someday” is this portrait painting – I enjoyed re envisioning her. I hope you like it.
To get and idea about Art’s project and New York show click here: The Human Canvas You’ve never seen anything like it. I was so honored to play even a small role in the effort.
Sometimes paintings just don’t go where you want them to go – don’t emote what you want them to emote. But the fact is, that so long as I’m moving my brushes, making decisions about color harmony, shapes, values and texture – it’s all very worth while. True master painters always say that a painting should never be considered so “precious” that you can’t toss your painting and just start over. I tend to get stuck thinking, it’s only paint – I can correct it. It’s hard for me to discard a painting for that reason. I always think I should determine the problem and correct it. I do love the mixture of the warm and cool colors and the brushwork in this painting. It’s growing on me already. She has a heart shaped face if ever I saw one – though this has nothing to do with my painting it.
The heat and sunshine has been miserable this week – but then I think there are people who enjoy heat and sunshine. For me, I hope we’ll be back to our unseasonably cool temperatures and wetness pretty soon. Have a peaceful 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.
I love the light and her serene expression. Overall, I enjoy the warm and calm emotion of it. Reference image provided by Tim Ichien. Knowing myself, this painting is not finished but it is the completed part of the first phase of the painting. That’s just the way the painting process goes. It takes time over time.
It’s been a year and a half since I painted a portrait. I decided I needed to paint portraits again before I forgot how – though I’m not sure if there is such a thing. I actually think any kind of painting leads to the same place – a more practiced and competent painter – but just in case I decided it was time. I opened my “to paint folder” to make a photo selection. I encountered this little girl a couple years prior, sitting inside a large shopping cart as her mom pushed her about while grocery shopping. She was wearing a pink dress with sparkling white beads in her hair. I ask her mom if I could photograph her. I promised her mom I would send her a digital file of the photo I took and I did. I then put the file away, not sure I would ever paint it.
When I began the painting, I envisioned a simple head and shoulders portrait with a plain background. I knew the beads in her hair would give the painting a certain pop! Below is an earlier unfinished stage of the painting and it was the stopping place for day one.
The following day, I painted a simple golden toned background with a bit of color variation and a bit of texture – different from what you see above. I also formed her arms more correctly and changed from the stark white beads – a judgement call – to more painterly beads. I placed the completed phase 1 painting where I could look at it for a while and thought – I DON”T THINK SO! The slouch was awkward against the plain background and bothered me.
I decided to give her a red chair because people often slouch in a chair – this helped. At the end of that painting day, however, I still wasn’t satisfied. I decided the background had to change to something more colorful and interesting. I went through my files, found a simple floral pattern, and used it, generally, as a background reference.
Adding this color, tones and shapes gave me what I wanted. These changes occurred over several days as my vision of the portrait evolved. It’s so much easier and faster to complete a painting if I have all the information and elements in the reference photo from the beginning – but in this case it was a “shopping cart”. It’s a good exercise to work this way, however, as it is an exercise in expanding ones creativity.
Portraits are complex and can be very tedious. This portrait was complex but was actually enjoyable and I will be creating them more often.
Portrait Redo – 9×12 Portrait Oil Painting on Linen Panel
Revised Painting of Young Mexican Girl by Winifred Whitfield
A few weeks ago, I posted the “first painting” of this young girl as labled. It has some cuteness about it, but it is in my home and I saw it daily and it irritated me more and more each day.
It is not unusual for me to make little changes to a painting as I see the need – “seeing” a process unto itself. For this painting, however, my concerns were major and required major repainting, which upon conclusion, I consider a major accomplishment. I even created/modified a brush just to add the curls to her hair. Well, it’s done – at least for now!! What do you think?
Portrait Highlights Patterns – 9×12 Oil Painting on Linen Panel
Portrait Oil Painting by Winifred
When I noticed the patterns of highlights on her face, I was inspired to paint this face. I hesitated for a moment wondering if I could capture such an intricate design – but that’s why tiny brushes are made! It was quite unusual for me to set up lighting in my studio this way but I’m so glad I did.