Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alla Prima Portrait Practice

Oh my poor neglected blog!  It's not that there is nothing to report...it's that too much is going on!  Lots of new paintings to show you.  I'm going to start with a portrait I painted of my sister at my studio a couple weeks ago.

I used an 18" x 24" gallery wrapped canvas.  I started by setting my sister up against a purple backdrop, cool outdoor light on her right and a warm spotlight on her left. (I like contrasting light sources on my portraits!)  I also made her change her shirt, which she was not too thrilled about.  But she's my little sister and used to me bossing her around!

I look at the largest shapes first, blocking it in a little bit on the angular side.  I avoid the features in the beginning, and focus on the shape of the face.  

I continued by looking at the shadows created around her features, not the features themselves.

I slowly locked in the features, adding a bit of burnt umber to the raw sienna I started with.  The paint is still very thin.

As I mentioned - there was a cool window light on the right and a warm spotlight on the left, so I started blocking in colors to match the light source and value on the face.

I continued blocking in color.  As I worked, I adjusted her hairline and jaw shape.  I made sure to extend the color into her neck.

This is as far as I got in our session.  In many ways it looks just like her, but there are a few shapes that need to be refined, especially her jawline and the shape of her eyebrows.  I really appreciate her patience!  I needed the practice :)

Slightly askew detail shot of her eyes...


Unknown said...

Thanks for showing the steps to a portrait. What was your sister's reaction?

Vanessa said...

Beautiful portrait! It's amazing that you are able to get the perfect balance of detail without using a grid! Gorgeous

Elisabeth said...

I really love your figure work, Kristina! This is an interesting step-by-step, and one can see the likeness emerging. Like you, I start with the overall shape of the head and leave the features until quite late in the painting, in the hope they fall into place (they don't always oblige, though!).