I can't believe it has been a month since I last posted. Sincere apologies if you have missed me, but I have not been on an exotic overseas holiday or anything remotely as exciting. What I have been doing is working on a special project for the minister of our church. He called me to one side after a service one Sunday and asked me if I could paint a portrait of a faithful member of the clergy who is retiring.
My first thoughts were: What was that? A completely legitimate excuse to paint? Hold me back while I dive for the brushes and oils! Of course I was polite and said something along the lines of "Why, certainly. I would love to paint her portrait. Just send me some good photos and I will get started as soon as I can."
Unfortunately the photos came in too late for school holidays, so I have had to work on the weekends instead, and because it is Winter in Australia we lose the daylight earlier. By the time I get home in the evenings it is too dark to paint, so blogging and home decorating have taken a back seat.
I thought you might like to see the progress though, so here it is:
Phase 1: I enlarged and then printed the photo to help me see the finer details more clearly. I then washed the canvas with a watery solution of burnt sienna mixed with turpentine. When it was dry I used the printed photo as a reference while I made a rough sketch of the face and shoulders. I also started adding in skin tones.
Phase 2: I added more detail to her eyes and lips and worked on the skin tones some more.I used a mix of burnt umber, burnt sienna, light red and white. The subject has light skin and she is in her eighties, so she has some interesting character wrinkles and folds in her skin, which will need some special attention.
Phase 3: I started to add some shading and highlights which give her face more definition. I also had to decide how to sensitively portray the wrinkles and yet remain true to life. I then worked on her teeth and fixed up a few mistakes I had made in the initial sketch.
Phase 4: Her face is starting to take shape and I added some shading to the folds in her neck and I started to paint in her earrings. The earrings have an intricate pattern around the edges and they took a fair amount of time to paint with a tiny number 2 brush. I also started to paint in her eyebrows as they needed the fine brush too.
I was pleased with the progress and happy with the way it was going, but when I stepped back a bit I realised that her nose was too narrow. My next step would be to widen it and add some more definition to her jawline too. I had to wait for the paint to dry a bit though, so I left the face and starting working on her clothes.
I hope you will come back next week to see the next steps in the painting process, and see the finished portrait too!