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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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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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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Potted Red Geranium with Bocopa

Potted Red Geranium with Bacopa Oil Painting – 11×14 by Winifred

I’ve seen so many paintings of potted geraniums. Most often the plant is in a clay pot with a watering can next to it, perhaps in front of an old shed. You’ve seen those. Now I’ve painted my version with a simple background. In addition to the bright red geraniums, I love the accent of the Bacopa with it’s tiny white cluster of petals. Many people don’t know this plant but it is a wonderful, profusely blooming water loving plant that does well in containers, hanging baskets and even as a ground cover. There’s always some growing in my containers and one always finds it in bloom. I skipped using a clay pot, though I do love them. It’s a classic image item. I decided to use a ceramic pot instead. I’ve had this pot for a while but couldn’t plant in it because it didn’t have a drainage hole. Finally I saw a YouTube video that showed how to drill holes in glass, ceramic or clay pots. I immediately purchased diamond drill bits and put holes in all kind of glass containers. Anyway, this allowed me to grow a geranium in my pot. By the way, I propagated 14 new geraniums, last fall and they’re are all currently in bloom. The geranium I propagated is a different kind of geranium from this one with a very different color and petals. You’ll see it at some point.

Have a wonderful week and I hope this brings you cheer. I know – it kind of feels like Christmas. Winifred

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The Beginning of Fall Color

Hydrangeas in Fall Oil Painting 16×20 – by Winifred Whitfield

I cut these hydrangeas from a large bush last week in a friends yard in Seattle. The flower heads were huge and most were beginning to dry on the bush. Hydrangeas turn many beautiful colors in fall. I didn’t try to capture that color exactly, instead opting for the blues, purples and reds of early summer – mainly because I already had the several gradients of paint colors mixed that I need for blues, purples, greens and reds. I’ll do the other colors some other time.

Believe it or not, I still have more to do on my mom’s portrait. I saw a problem with her nose and I need to correct it. Overtime, something new might reveal itself to me, and I’ll keep making the corrections until I feel it’s all done. Have a wonderful week.

Another black man was killed in May around the same time as the George Floyd killing. The police lied, said death was due to a drug overdose. Now the video and documents reveal a major cover up by the entire police department and I believe the District Attorney as well. He had been suffocated. I want this to end.

I’ll miss Ruth Bader Ginsburg – a great lady – a great Supreme Court Judge.

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Venice in the Rain

It was two years ago when I visited Venice with a friend from New York. I have now completed a 6 painting series of “Venice at Night”, primarily in the rain. I most enjoy creating figurative paintings which you can feel and which tell stories. I think I have a few such paintings here. During the process, I got to experience the magic of Venice again.

Venice in the Rain 16×20 Oil Painting Panel – by Winifred
Two Women Walking in the Rain in Venice – 12×16 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred Whitfield
Lady with Umbrella and Others 16×20 on Linen Panel by Winifred
Window Shopping at Night in Venice – 16×20 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred Whitfield
Lady in Rain in Venice at night. 12×16 Oil Painting on Panel by Winifred Whitfield

To complete the series, I include below the first painting I started with – previously posted. The location is Murano, Italy and during the day.

Weather in Murano 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred

I hope you enjoy these images. Soon I will commence images of the canals and Gondolas.

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Portrait Slight Smile

Slight Smile – Oil Painting 9×12 Traditional Oil on Panel

Slight Smile – Oil Painting Portrait by Winifred

Did I ever tell you how difficult it is to paint portraits with accuracy of image likeness. Well, it really is difficult. There are so many nuances of tonal values, of color, techniques designed to tell you what moves forward and what’s in back and how the planes of the face turn. Spending 40 to 50 hours on a portrait is the usual.  It is intricate and the detail can be tedious – if the portrait is in anyway realistic.  At the same time I marvel when one is complete and I know I have done my very best.  With each painting there is something I learn and can take into the next painting.  No matter how difficult, I always look forward to the next.

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Portrait Highlights Patterns

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.

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Colorful Bouquet

Colorful Bouquet Still Life Oil Painting by Winifred

Colorful Bouquet Still Life 11×12 x in Gessoed Panel

I painted this bouquet a few months ago but have never posted it anywhere.  Do you think there is such a thing as too much color!  I did and planed never to share it. Combining both the color and the paint texture, this painting has the appearance of candy. It is super saturated and shiny. It’s a lot to take in.  It would have been perfect to have posted it on Valentine’s Day. But we’re not too far off and we are upon yet another holiday to celebrate. So, whether I love it or not – here it is. Hope you’ve enjoyed both holidays this week – and also this very colorful painting.

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