Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sweet Tea (formerly 'Precious') ~ WIP 2

 Notice the title change? All the sisters have been discussing the final title for this family portrait and Holly won with 'Sweet Tea'. Congratulations, Holly!

This is also the final sketch (hopefully). I'm pleased with it but I will probably get some feedback as most of the women represented in this portrait are watching my progress via this blog.

Each little girl is represented by something she is either associated with now (as an adult) or as a child.
  • Angie - the oldest at 12. She was the 'little mother' so she sits at the head of the table and pours the tea. She also loves grapes hence the bowl of grapes in front of her.
  • Marie - 11 years old. One of the family artists so she wields the paint brush.
  • Rita - 10 years of age. She loves bangles and necklaces and as a child, was the one that brought smiles and laughter to the others.
  • Louise - age 9. She is represented as smiling and happy with bouquets of flowers.
  • Holly - age 8. She was very close to Louise as a young child so she sits, picking flowers for her. There's a funny story behind the dragonfly on her hat but that will be left as a private joke.
  • Katherine - age 6. She was the littlest because of health issues so she gets the most cookies.
  • Eva - age 5. Poor little thing is trying to say grace at a tea party!
  • Melinda, the baby -  Hand on the cat. What baby doesn't like the feel of cat 'purr'?
  • The Cat - This kitty will eventually become a tuxedo cat. Black with a white 'bib'.
P.S. I've added the closeups to better show detail.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Precious ~ WIP 1 (commission)

I know I've been absent for awhile now. No new posts in quite some time but I have been busy. I recently received an unusual request for a family portrait. My client wished to have a painting done of 8 women in her family as little girls, partaking in an outdoor tea party. She had no reference photos of sufficient quality to use so I would have to find my own, guided by her descriptions only. Sound like a fool's undertaking? Not really. I was so touched by the story she shared with me regarding her family that I saw this as a worthwhile challenge.

At first I didn't really know where to begin. After going back and forth with her via email an image started forming in my head and I did a very rough sketch on notepad paper with ballpoint pen and sent it to her. She loved it! Now to find my images. This has been the true challenge. I'm looking primarily for children in the correct poses. Many I found with the perfect pose but wrong age or wrong sex, wrong hair style, etc. Surprisingly it hasn't been too hard to turn a 3 year old into a 6-7 year old with very little adjustment and without losing the original pose. Turning a little boy into a little girl hasn't proved that hard either and the hair style changes are easy. Not all poses are exactly as the original sketch but I think things will work out alright. I'm doing this storyboard style, pinning up each child separately on a board in the proper position as I go along.  This will allow me to move, rearrange and enlarge or reduce the size of each little girl as I put this composition together.

There's a lot of work left to do but I wanted to post an update. I'm posting the original sketch and the storyboard as it looks at present.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ completed

I made my tweaks and added a pale yellow wash to the background as planned. The wash doesn't show up as much on the right side of the painting but trust's there. I graduated the wash, heavier on the left and lightening up as it moves toward the right. I also added some pale yellow reflections to the ladies's skin and it gave the painting a glow it was otherwise lacking. I hope the image I post is close to accurate colorwise. I received three Windows updates that threw my monitor for a loop. Now everything has taken on a greenish cast I can't seem to fully correct. Because of this, the image has only been resized and sharpened in my photo editor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 4

Okay, this is where I'm at right now. The beads weren't as tedious to paint as I feared and I hope the feather boa reads as feathers and not fur. I can already see a few things that need tweaking and I want to give the background a loose wash of golden yellow to break up all the reds and purples. I used the method I devised in my last post to create the feathers and it seemed to work pretty well. The red of the boa had to be broken up a little so I added some Perlyene Violet and Quin. violet for color variation and depth. I also used a damp brush to lift out and highlight some of the feathers.  

Friday, September 07, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 3


I've finished the third lady's face and am now on to her hat. The ribbons will be easy, the feathers maybe not so much. I did some experimenting on scrap paper and I think I may have a solution. All her feathers are of the downy variety. Achieving that light, fuzzy effect could still be problematic but I may come close by dropping clear water onto the paper, then taking the handle end of a small brush and 'feathering' the water outward. Before the water can dry I plan to drop in my watercolor, thick paint (straight from the tube), and just let it follow the water as watercolor paint tends to do. I can help it along with the brush handle if need be. While the paper is still damp I can scratch in the quill part of the feathers with the same brush handle.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP update

I thought it might be nice to show how I'm going about creating the facial contours and skin tones. Keeping to a limited palette of FUB and Carbazole violet, I painted the shadows and some of the facial lines and wrinkles with very light washes, building up the value strength as I went along. After that was dry, I used a combo of Quin. red, Quin gold and warm sepia to create my skin tones. I did use a little Carbazole violet mixed with the sepia to warm up some of the shadows. Warm sepia and Carbazole make a nice neutral purple-y grey that works pretty well around her mouth and nose. It's now in the ugly stage but I'm not worried yet. I've seen enough WIP's by portrait artists to know this is going to be alright...eventually. I just have to keep going and not panic.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 2

I made some progress with my second lady today. Sorting out the top of her hat was a little daunting but I'm happy with it for now. Next is the third and final lady and I can't wait to start painting her. She's covered in feathers. Feather boas, feathers in her hat...I have no idea how well I'll do creating feathers with watercolor on this surface but I should have fun trying. I'm saving all the beaded necklaces until last. The thought of painting each one of those shiny little beads makes me cringe but I'll probably develop a system as I go along. I hope I'll develop a system!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Red Hat Ladies ~ WIP 1

It seems like it's been a long time since I posted an update but I have been working at this, albeit slowly, almost everyday. Yesterday was migraine day (bad headache) so I watched the Housewives of NYC marathon instead. Wow, those ladies can get crazy, crazy. Talk about drama around every corner but I digress...

I wound up transferring my drawing twice before beginning the painting. Thank heaven I did those color studies and discovered that mixed in with my Arches hotpress paper was a sheet of Strathmore Bristol Series 500 illustration board. I didn't order it but somehow it came with the Arches watercolor paper by mistake. I remember thinking that the paper felt heavier or more stiff when I pulled it out but continued on, clueless. It wasn't until I laid down a very wet wash that I realized something was wrong. The paper 'pilled' up like an old sweater. I tried the other side of the paper and found that almost as smooth as Yupo. The paint even beaded up on it. That's when I noticed an embossed stamp in one corner stating that it was Bristol board and the really good stuff, too!

I do love a challenge now and then so I decided to continue with the smooth side of the paper and paint my red hat ladies. We'll see how successful I am when it's done.