It seams like I have gone from a year long dry spell to an oasis of ideas. Working on several pieces at a time. This painting was so much fun and yet so much of a challenge. I wanted to do her with a loose brush stroke to give it a relaxed feeling as the pose is of my daughter Jenny relaxing and with me and a cup of hot chocolate. As I often do as I am talking to someone I think of how I would mix the colors to paint her face or the color of reflected light that catches her chin. Then I was struck by her relaxed pose and did the mom thing and pulled out my phone and snapped a few quick shots before she realized I was doing so.
SO of course I started with a sketch and traced it onto my canvas as always. I worked on blocking in the back ground and then started on the face. I know I should do other things first but I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to painting faces. I just can’t wait to get at it. This painting proved to me a true test as I lost her face completely a hundred times. well maybe not actually 100 but close.
When painting faces especially portraits that you want to look like a specific person, the larger the painting the easier it is to get those features right. This painting is only 12″ x 16″ So her face is only about 2″ big. this makes getting subtle value changes and warm light cool light areas a little more difficult. Plus at this size if you facial features are off by a hair width you have a different person interlay.
Also I had a hard time getting her eyes to look up like in the photo. This doesn’t seem to be that bad but even if the eyes are the correct shape it changes the mood of the subject. I wanted the upward glance because it was happy and hopeful. But I kept getting the straight ahead gaze which made her look sad or even one time mad, which was not what I wanted at all. Because it isn’t who my Jenny is. She is fun loving and cheerful and always thinking of new ideas. That is the feeling I wanted to capture.
Here is a quick run through of all the faces of Jenny! LOL! I know she is blue for a while, It was an underpainting that eventually got painted over also. These are just a few of the many faces. Over the weeks of working on her I would get so frustrated paint over the face and start again, working on something else on the painting until the face painted area was dry and ready to work again. This actually worked great because I had a lot of time to spend on perfecting the other area of the painting that I might not have taken if the face turned out great the first time.
Here you can see the purple underpainting of the shadows on the sofa and pillows which eventually got glazed a lovely sand color. It makes it a little hard to judge if you are getting things right when you paint things in colors that they are not going to be, but it is truly the values that matter the most so if they are right everything will turn out fine in the end.
It can be hard sometimes as I post my works in progress as I work on them. Sometimes that pressure makes me work harder to get it right, other times it makes me wish I would have kept thins one to myself! LOL! But even with all the frustrations I am totally excited about how she turned out.
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