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
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
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.
Girl in Crimson Dress – 11×14 Linen on Panel
A loosely painted textural portrait of a teenage girl. I enjoy experimenting with loose imprecise brushstrokes – though it’s not just random as it might appear.