Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Portrait of a Redhead

I'm not going to lie to you.  This painting was painful.  I started pretty enthusiastically - I mean what's not to get excited about?  A beautiful picture with great lighting of a pretty girl wearing my FAVORITE color (purple BTW) and I get to PAINT it.  Nothing wrong with that!

So I started out by working from the photo in black and white - there was so much fun color to play with I felt I needed to just look at the light and get all the proportions and composition right.

I am working on oil primed cotton (for those of you keeping track!) First wash has blues and blacks with thinner.

I had a break in between painting sessions so the black was nice and dry when I went back and blocked in some local color.  

I blocked in the darkest darks - not really trying to get the right chroma, but the correct value.  

As I worked, the areas I addressed became smaller - face, shoulder, etc.

Continued to work into the details, such as the hands and the jewelry.  While I was happy with it overall, I never really thought the length of the neck was right, and I kept going back and forth with her jawline.  

At this point I almost called it "finished" - but the look on her face wasn't quite right.  She was more pensive in the source photo, and here she looked angry.

I was very happy with the hands and the purple shirt.

But the face was just not quite right yet.

So I scraped off the face and started working on it again.  For about 12 hours.  Paint was completely scraped off several times.  I was hitting a wall, I couldn't "see" the issues anymore, there was no progress being made (this is where you feel sorry for me...go on!)

Finally, I was getting closer.  The nose is actually now where the eye on the right used to be.  The jaw is slightly turned up, tilting her head a little.  I softened the eye on the left.

I adjusted the edge of her cheekbone too many times to think about.  Finally, it was much much better.

The adjustments to her head ended up pushing the composition a little closer to the top of the page than I had originally intended, but I think it still works.  

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on so many portraits in a row lately.  Although I never feel like I have enough time in the studio, as I look at a group of paintings I can really see where my strengths and weaknesses lie.  I'm enjoying one amazing journey in front of my easel!

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