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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Teddy and Me 1

Me and My Teddy 1 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

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!

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Woman with Shawl

Native American Woman in Shawl Oil Painting 16×20 by Winifred Whitfield

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.

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The Veil

Woman with Gold Veil, Oil Painting 11×14 by Winifred Whitfield

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.

Painting of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald

Have a great weekend! Winifred

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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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