This is the first oil painting in the series Drawn To Love. Up to point, I have only been doing portraits in pencil on paper. But, the photograph I studied had such intense lighting that I felt paint would better tell the story rather than pencil. (photo credit: Daniel Smädný Mních Jurčo).
Below is the progression of this portrait. At the end of each day, I took a photo of the development thus far. Some days saw 4-5 hours worth of work. Other days saw as little as 30 minutes. I start with a pencil outlay. I work in diluted paint to get the basic tonal values down. The darkest areas first. It's about getting as much paint down as possible. Cover that blank white canvas! The features are painted in roughly. Areas of block color. No depth.
Then I work in mid tone values. I adjust any proportions that are glaringly askew. I make adjustments and sophistications to the flesh tones. Notice the photo with the dark green contours! Yes, there are green hues in our skin; maybe not that vivid though!
I then start comparing the portrait so far with the reference photo. Having them the same size instantly highlights the proportion slip ups. This saves me hours of studying between photo and painting.
For me, this portrait sums up the character and personality of this person. I made the lighting a little warmer in hue compared to the reference photo. And I used shades closer to purple than blue for the clothing, as purple is her favorite color. Personal touches.
The progression of four images above are photographed with different settings; to see if I have used too much yellow, red, or blue tones in the flesh. Adjustments are then made accordingly. It is almost complete at this point. The eyelashes and wisps of hair around the forehead are painted in. The highlighted strands of hair against dark background are added. It is my favorite part. The white light reflection in the eye, which bring a static representation of a figure to life! To the person you know, and cherish! And my artist stamp added to the corner.
As you can gather, this is a lengthy process: getting a portrait one. I started the drawing for this portrait at the beginning of December. At the time of writing, I find myself entering the month of February. There's still the sealing coat of varnish to do, to protect the painting. And then the framing once the varnish is completely dry. A timely process, indeed.
This was not a commissioned piece, so I was able to journey through the painting at a leisurely pace, enjoying the development, and able to leave the painting for, sometimes, days before returning to it again. This helps with perspective, proportion and color. Sometimes, the eye doesn't see what is "off" right away. I don't really like to look up while in the middle of folding laundry or closing the curtains, and see my incomplete work, as all the mistakes and distortions become exceedingly evident. But it is a necessary pain to endure, so I can correct them when I do have my allotted paint time.
I have left the detail of the clothing less in comparison to the face and hair, for the purpose of directing the viewer to the face.
Now, after all this, why a portrait? Why not stick with the photograph? It's an accurate snap shot of the person. Yes, too accurate. And a snap, a glimpse, a moment caught in time of the person; as they were. A portrait painting shares time. The character of the person with artistic preference. Recognition of the person maintained, but with a softness. A gentle sweep of the hair, with one or two (seemingly) loose strands. The intense light has been harnessed to compliment the person. Backgrounds no longer compete with the area of focus: the figure. All this is achieved with deliberate and consise choices when creating this portrait. I can add soft hues of purple to unite the portrait as a whole. There is a rosy blush to the portrait which I enhanced upon from the photo. When the painting and the photo are seen side by side, the rosy pinks are evidently 'blooming' in the painting.
Taking a photo and turning it into a painting is a very special process. It's telling you, I see something precious here.
So, there you have it!
oil on canvas board
15.5 by 12 inches
For me, framing your work turns it from a piece of art, to statement: Look at me. I am something of worth!
The photos below are of the finished framed portrait. The bed is included for size and space perception and perspective.
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