This pose was chosen for the portrait although it is a
very difficult photo to work from. We felt that it made
an interesting composition and the person who commissioned
the portrait is herself an artist and someone I've worked
with before. She likes my style and I feel comfortable
working with her. This will be a more "impressionist"
portrait than the little girl I
To make sure we were thinking along the same lines,
I did a very quick, rough oil sketch and took
a picture of it with a video camera and emailed it to
her. She liked it, liked the impressionist quality of
it. So I proceeded to get a canvas, 22 by 28.
Here's the first very rough coat of paint on the canvas.
This is just to get the canvas covered and a sense of
the composition and placement. Notice that the boy's right
arm is rather deformed and I later changed that.
I try to work first on relative lights and darks, to get
a sense of the values. This is an interesting composition
because the light is actually coming from behind, which
makes it unusual.
Now I couldn't resist working on the faces a little to
begin to get a little life in them. Notice that I have
also corrected the placement of the right arm. It still
isn't clear what's happening with the boy's legs. I think
he is wearing shorts.
At this size, there's not that much apparent difference
between this and the last shot. The changes are subtle:
working on placement, color relationships, form.
You can see, in this one, that I was working on the "background"
rather than the kids. Since we live in a "world",
that world is nearly as important in the painting as the
subject of the portrait -- not entirely, but the surrounding
colors and forms should add to the portait.
I have darkened the dark areas (the back and left of the
chair, the front arm of the chair, the right side of the
boy's face, the mysterious area behind the cahir to the
left (which actually contains a piano and family portraits,
although they don't show up well in the photo. I made
the small table at the right more substantial. I'm not
quite sure what to do with it yet. It helps define the
space, but it doesn't add a whole lot. On the other hand,
I don't want a lot to distract from the center. 3/14/01
Here, I had worked for about an mour, primarily of
thickening the paint layers outside the window, darkening
and armchair so it would "sit back" in space.
I worked a very little bit on the faces, softening them.
The chair seems better.
You'll see in this shot that I started to move the
features around on the little girl's face. It's in transition.
From now on, it's likely that the changes that you'll
see in this diary will be small, as I begin to work
on the minute touches.
This sometimes happens to the artist working "freehand."
I looked at the photo I was working from, and I wasn't
satisfied with the faces. I didn't feel I'd duplicated
them. So I "re-blocked" them. This may seem
like a step backwards. It is! But better that than to
proceed with something I'm uncomfortable with.
I am much happier with the new work and am now proceeding
to finishing touches. The portrait will remain somewhat
"impressionist", but it always seems to me
that, with a protrait, the faces themselves should be
a little smoother, particularly when they are children.
2002: The children's mother was happy with the little
girl but felt that the boy didn't look like him. (Recall
that I was working from a photo with very little information.)
We scheduled a photo shoot so that I could capture
the boy with more detail. I now have a digital camera
which allowed us to take photos and then preview them
on the computer. We chose this one. (Same basic lighting,
but more detail in the boy's face.)
is the canvas on the easel with some work begun on the
modifications. As with the painting of 3 daughters, I
made a black and white "drawing" on the computer
to assist me in placement of basic features.
- Current changes. I think this is final but will look
at it for a week or two while I do my taxes.
5/19/02 - Here is the final portrait. I made one adjustment
to the shadow on the left side of the boy's nose after
looking at it for some time (while it didn't know I
was looking.) This is a sort of "technique"
of "sneaking up on the painting. Let it sit somewhere
for awhile where you will frequently catch a glimpse
of it out of the corner of your eye. (Note: the difference
in tone and brightness between this and the prior picture
is simply a function of the light which was available
when I took the photo. This was taken on a sunny day,
while the last was on a cloudy day. Both were taken
by a digital camera and subsequently modified in Photoshop,
using the Levels commend. (I know this is information
you'll be VERY interested in!)
To see a larger version of the final portrait, click