Friday, September 19, 2014

How Do You Plan a Portrait?

I must have these essentials to gear up to paint a portrait:

  • First the no-brainer: materials. I use a regular mechanical pencil to sketch, a kneaded eraser, and watercolor paints.
  • The second no-brainer: coffee. Nothing says, "ok, let's do this!" like a tall latte
  • Third no-brainer: photo references. Here I had the privilege of having a close-up as well as the desired pose.  I also downloaded and printed references for the surrounding flowers.
  • My laptop to zoom, my iPhone to capture the little snippets I get excited about
  • I always print a black and white copy to the size that the image will be on the painting. It helps me work through spatial relations and I often bump up the contrast to remind myself of the darkest and lightest areas that need to pop.
  • And last but not least, unrelated work. This is clutch. I grab half-finished pieces and scrap paper and keep it on-hand. They serve several purposes. They're distraction for when I'm getting stressed about the way things are going. They keep me flexible when I need to keep working loose on the main piece, but I'm ready to tighten up and do some detailed work or vice versa. The help me practice when I'm not ready to paint that certain something on the main portrait. The keep my momentum up when I'm waiting for a wash to dry.

Let's just get to the process, shall we?

. I did three or four sketches before finding one I liked. Add to that three or four faces for baby. Babies are all about subtlety--subtle strokes, a tiny line change, a touch of color. We don't all look that different when we're born, but once you grab a defining feature of baby, you're gravy. For Baby Evie Rose, it was the little, pointy peeks of her upper lip.

Paint. Loose washes first to both loosen my hand up and to lay down some key colors. While the wet-on-wet floral work was drying, I tackled the main shapes of mommy's face and light tones in baby's face. Once I was ready for tight work, I painted the details on mom and baby's face.

When I felt too constricted or like I was staring at the same part too much, I swung back to the loose floral work on the right. (See how some of the leaves on the right are still wet?) 

Almost done above, and the final painting below!

But it's not the first piece of art Evie Rose has acquired, she's also got this print to brag about...

Custom mother and child portraits and custom name montage prints are available in my shop, simply follow the link!

Days I love my job! (Which happens to be most days.)

Keep painting,