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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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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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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Girl in Vintage Chair

Girl in Vintage Chair 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

She wore black jeans and a black tee shirt when I photographed her. I allowed her to pose herself and I’m glad I did. The aspect of the pose I find most endearing is her arms. I never would have positioned them as such but they’re perfect – the elongated arms flowing into the interestingly interlaced tapered fingers. I also didn’t envision this painting style – for sure. There is a class I wanted to take. It will be taught by Valerie Collymore, quite an amazing impressionist painter. Her class is entitled “Renoir Like” – but sadly for me – it’s full. I decided I would paint my own “Renoir Like” portrait but my imagination took over the process and this painting took on a life of it’s own, determining color, texture and abstractions as it evolved. I’m glad things happened as they did. After all, I will always be better at painting “Winifred Like”. Hope you enjoy. Winifred