Thursday, 9 August 2012

Julia Kay's Portait Party Flickr group : Portrait #1

I thought I would write a post about a portrait I did in response to Julia Kay's Portrait Party, a group on Flickr. The idea is that someone posts photos of themselves, then different people in the group make paintings, drawings and digital artworks based on those photos. My first portrait was of Hettie Price.

This is Hettie's photo that she posted. I was drawn to this picture as I loved that she'd added all these flowers in her hair. I thought of Nymph paintings of old, and decided to call her portrait Primavera.

Firstly, I selected a victim...an old canvas that was never going to be finsihed and was cluttering up the studio. It was 40 x 40cm so a good size, as I wanted to work with big brushes. I also decided to set myself the challenge of finishing this painting in one day only, with no going back.

First stage is to quickly and roughly block in all the main features and get a rough feeling for tones, erring towards the darker colours. Darker colours in oils are painted on more thinly than the light, so are easier to paint over. Blocking in the background helped also to keep the tones in the face right, and obliterate the old painting underneath.

This painting is a 1/2 of the way through the session. You can see that more of the features are beginning to emerge from the canvas. I feel that this stage is almost like sculpting for me. The eyes are a little uneven and the lips lop sided, but turning the canvas upside down and looking at it helped to identify these problems easily.

Here the face is almost complete. I was not happy with the lips, so I rubbed part of them back to reapply the colour. All that is really left at this stage is a bit of tweaking and a lot of painting in the background detail. I wanted to keep the background vague, so I had to resist my tendancy to overcomplicate.

And here os the finsihed painting. I like how I managed to keep some of the background from the painting underneath, in her shoulder area. There is maybe a touch too much detail in the face for what I was aiming for, but I am pleased that I managed to keep the flowers quite impressionistic.


And finally, here is the painting in all 8 stages.

Click on the image to see a larger size, so you can see all the details. I hope this lets you see the graft that goes into a painting. The session lasted 7 hours, with a couple of breaks for tea only. I can't wait to get started on my next one!

Check out Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr here http://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitparty/