About Winifred Whitfield

I'm an oil painter and a digital painter. Portrait painting is my speciality. I love painting still lifes as well. I'm also a professional portrait photographer.

Pebble

Young Asian Indian Girl Holding a Pebble – Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I said I would present you with a non-human portrait this week but ultimately I didn’t like the photo reference I had in mind – so I chose as usual, a human portrait – a little girl. Yet another portrait look with lots of texture. I love the way children hold tiny things in their hands – the items appear to be so precious to them.

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My Red Ruffles

Young Mexican Girl in Red Ruffled Dress 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I painted this little girl using my painting knives. I ask myself recently why I had searched for and purchased my large assortment of “painting knives” if I was not going to use them. A few years ago, I had an online instructor who mentioned that her primary tool is a painting knife, which she purchased long ago, but which is no longer available. (I always hate it when someone says that.) She further commented that she could not paint in her specific style without this tool. It has a very soft and flexible metal blade which provides a great deal of control in creating large and very fine details with great maneuverability. I was immediately challenged to find such tool for myself.

Art stores now only sell palette knives made of a substantially harder and less flexible metal.Their purpose is primarily to mix paint on a palette, though some do paint with them and make other creative marks. Art stores today, however, don’t sell painting knives I wanted a painting knife like my instructor – I like tools. INDEED I FOUND SEVERAL! My search words included – painting knives, vintage, used, well worn, … words most people are not looking to describe products they want to purchase, but I focused on these words. I now have 17 assorted painting knives – different shapes and sizes. I purchased all I could find because in addition to their rarity and fragility, I might damage one in a drop to the floor and trust me I drop things ALL OF THE TIME. One set of these knives was used but excellent, another set was completely unused – still in the box with only a little discoloration on the blades. I feel so lucky to have found these very serviceable, no longer commercially produced tools, on Ebay – and for a song! They are amazing. They look much like a palette knife but they are made of thinner and far more flexible metal. With them, I can make expressive marks different from a brush and move the paint around in an easily maneuverable manner.

Recently, I posted a painting of this same little girls head only, painted several years ago – a normal portrait. At that time, I looked at those ruffles and thought “I don’t think so – but maybe someday”. And so the day came and I thought I’d put those painting knives to the test. It was right tool, the right time and the right skill level to create this painting. I enjoy the color, the depth and dimension as well as her red ruffles and pretty little face. I really like it – It was fun and I hope you enjoy it also. My next canvas is prepared and ready for me to get to work. It will be a very unusual kind of portrait – not the human kind!

The heatwave broke here and it’s now very comfortable. Wherever you are, I hope you are comfortable also. YEAH KANSAS!

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Yellow Rose In Her Hair

Yellow Rose in Her Hair 12×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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

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Pin Up Girl

Pin Up Girl Oil Painting 12×12 by Winifred Whitfield

Known for their “pouty” red lips, big curls, wind blown up swept skirts, and long legs – I thought I’d give suchpainting a try – at least partially. Some years ago, I taught an entire online digital painting course focused on the great painters of pin up. I have many photo references taken more than 10 years ago while attending a photography competition in Nevada. A bunch of us hired a couple models and went into the desert to do a photo shoot. This is the first oil painting I’ve created from one of those references. I find all portrait paintings challenging, however, In this case, I was even challenged by the blouse! I completely repainted her blouse 6 times – not just changing it a little each time, but totally. I altered the style of brush strokes, style of texture,the shape of the blouse, the color – everything. Ultimately, the simpler I made it the better. Hope you enjoy my pin up. There is someone out there who very much reminds me of a pin up girl. The red dress you were wearing would have been perfect.

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Cutie Pie

Young Boy with Big Curls 11×14 Oil Painting

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

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Asian Indian Woman – Many Layers of Brushstrokes

Gentle Breeze in Sunlight – 11×14 Oil Painting by 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.

Building form and features, making corrections with paint layers.

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.

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Man in Darkness

Man in Darkness 9×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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.

Have a fun and safe holiday. Feel free to contact me at info@bigvalleyphotoart.com

Flowers in her Hair

lowers in Her Hair 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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.

Black Woman Long Braids Textured Surface. Oil Painting – by Winifred Whitfield

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.

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My Teddy Three

My Teddy and Me Three 16×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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.

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Three Faces

Native American Woman Strong Oil Painting 9×12 by Winifred Whitfield

Today, I’m giving you more paintings and fewer words. I think it’s a good trade.

Caucasian Teenager Looking Forward – Oil Painting 9×12 by Winifred Whitfield

Little Girl

Bi-racial Girl with Curls – 12×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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