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Mother and Son- portrait in progress

November 2002 --

I'll come back and fill in the preliminary information. Right now, I'm just going to get the preliminary steps up on the web.

I started with a photo (unfortunately, a snapshot) that both the mother and I liked, for reason of the pose. The little boy is squinting in the original photo, so we will have to have some other shots to capture his eyes.

Another difficulty is that the extreme sunlight streaming in from the left, while dramatic, tends to "lose" data in the photographic process as it gets wiped out.

But we'll work around that.


The first step was to get the photo "gridded" and transferred to the canvas, a 24 x 30 inch primed linen canvas.  

11/02 - I then tinted the canvas all over with a very thin wash of paints (I had been working on two other portraits during the afternoon and just used the paint that was let on the palette.

11/03 - The next day, when the wash had dried, I put in a fairly dark layer for the background. From the dark background, I will pick out the green of the leaves and the purple of the flowers behind the sitters. The strong contrast gives the painting drama.

11/9 - (below)I begin blocking in the medium colors. At this point, it is more important to keep the relative lights and darks than to concentrate on detail.

For me, this is always the most fun part of a painting -- slapping the colors on.

11/09 -- (below)And in the same session, I finish the blocking in of the lightest colors.Don't expect the sitters to look a whole lot like themselves at this point. Now I have to quit for the day, because the paint is very wet.

The mother gave me another photo of the boy that showed his eyes better. The photo was facing in the wrong direction and the lighting is a bit different. I "flipped" the photo in Photoshop.

11/30/02 - (below)Made considerable progress on the painting.
(below) -- the mother's face begins to look less cartoon-like. 12/22/02 - a busy autumn (and other unfinished portraits) slowed my work. Finally got a good day for painting. Working on the mother's face . . .

1/12/03 - Now I am working on the mother's face and the clothes and arms and legs. Still concentrating mainly on the figures.


1/19/03 - I have worked more on the subjects' arms legs and clothing and I am working on the background, which must have some detail but be kept in a low key (dark) so as not to conflict with or dominate the subjects.
3/8/03 - There's a stage missing in here where I worked more color and form into the background. This picture below shows the "final" portrait. After letting the painting dry for some time, I working with Gamblin's Galkyd Lite as follows: Used Galkyd as a medium to glaze. Used mixtures of Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green, Phthalo green, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine blue and lemon yellow to set the background back and unify it. Also added a warm glaze to the dark portions of the bodies. Added a tiny bit of yellow glaze to portions of the grass in front.



Last updated: March 8, 2003
Copyright c. 2002 by Pam Coulter Blehert. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.