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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Completed

Monochromatic Watercolor Family Portrait
18x24" - Gift for Grandparents

Well unless my client has adjustments she would like done this portrait is completed.  It looks so tiny online but in real life it is quite large so it carries nicely from across my studio.  I will have to take a photo of it from a distance when the sun comes back...it will come back I am sure of it...pretty sure.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Finishing Touches

The paper is a little warped as it is "wet off the easel", but things are starting to come together.  I think the grandfather and grandmother are completed but will stare at them for awhile.

The grandson sitting on the grandfather is very nearly finished, just a touch up to his upper lip and his nose.  The grandson with the grandmother needs his body filled out a bit more and softened.  His left cheek is also a little harsh looking and will be softened and refined a bit further.  Then I think a bit more refining of his eyes and hairline...hmm the more I look at the photo online the more I think the grandmother's eyes need to be darkened, will see in the morning :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Working on Capturing the Likeness

Things are starting to take shape and I am quite happy with how the grandparents are at this point.  I still have a fair bit of work to do on the grandson though to capture the likeness and have him looking more realistic and 3 dimensional.

I think the hardest part of painting with watercolor is the patience to allow the paint to dry before moving on! Luckily this piece is quite large so I can move around the portraits to find dry areas  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Refining the Features Further

I have done a great deal of refining each subjects features but still a long way to go!  The son on the far left needs to be softened much more and his features refined to better capture his likeness. 

The grandmother is closer to being completed but still need some of her features softened and refined.  The portrait of the son sitting on grandpa is getting closer but his eyes, nose and mouth still need to be softened and his cheek plumped up and softened.  His hair on the top looks really odd right now and needs to be darkened more to fit in with the hair closer to the viewer.  Then his clothing and arms will be darkened.

The grandfather's features have been built up and are close to being completed but will be softened in areas and the back of his neck needs to be darkened further.  I will also darken the couch further to match the other cushion.  In the reference photo one cushion is dark and the other is light but I think it distracted from the subjects too much so I will treat them as the same material.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Refining the Features

The dimensions are slowly being built up throughout each subjects portrait to allow each area to dry thoroughly before moving on.  I will continue to add and remove the watercolor pigment which allows for smoother transitions that are still accurate.

The hair will continue to be built up in layers and will be more wispy around the edges as the features continue to be refined and sharpened.  Areas that may seem a little dark will be lightened and the darkest areas will continue to be built up further.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Building up the Tonal Values

Ugh I hate posting an update at such an awkward stage but it is all part of the process.  Things look quite harsh and are not refined yet so the likenesses are off quite a bit but will get better as the portraits progress.

The values and details are built up in very thin layers, each being allowed to dry before another layer can be added or the details can be refined.  I work similarly to my graphite method which is a construct/deconstruct approach, which I am sure is not the norm for watercolor ;)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Laying in the Tonal Values

I have started laying in the tonal values with watercolor and will lay enough of the values to have a good road map of how the portraits are going to proceed.  The I will build up each portrait individually, moving from one to the other to allow the layers to dry if needed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Watercolor Portrait for Grandparents - Rough Sketch

Rough Sketch - 18x24"
This is the very rough sketch for my current commission which will be painted as a monochromatic watercolor portrait in sepia.  I actual felt my heart skip a beat (kind of sad) as I was so excited to be doing a watercolor portrait again! There are just not enough hours in the day :)

The sketch is roughly 13x19" to fit an 18x24" frame and has been transferred to pre-stretched Arches watercolor paper.  The lines are quite dark as they can be erased as the portrait progress but most will dissolve in the water. 

Ok, onto the paint, yay!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Graphite Portrait Commission of Daughter - Completed



I did just a few very minor adjustments to her cheeks and hair which probably can't be noticed online but in real life it helped capture her a bit more :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Graphite Portrait Commission of Daughter - Finishing Touches

8x10" Graphite Portrait Commission
Anniversary Gift

Well this commission portrait probably seems like it came together so quickly but really it was just many hours packed into a short time ;)  I will leave her sit for a bit to see if anything pops out that may need to be changed. Of course as I am typing this I can't stop peeking for edits and I think I will darken her right side a bit more.  Oh and how did that happen, the curl on her right side became one long ringlet, that will need to be fixed as well.  Sometimes I get a little carried away with the hair because it is so much fun to draw.  Then I will see if my client has any changes she would like.

I know I already mentioned it but man what a difference working from a clear, good quality photo makes.  Although it takes me the same time to complete the portrait, I get to spend my time focusing on what I see, not trying to figure our what I see because the image is blurry.  For commission work, often the piece of art is a surprise so often the photo quality can not be helped.  But if it can, boy it makes a difference so I will keep harping on that ;)

It does not hurt at all that she is totally adorable too.  This is my favorite age, the two's, I don't get why they are called terrible two's they are so darn cute!  Makes me almost want to have another one....almost.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Graphite Portrait Commission of Daughter - Refining the Features

I am still refining her features and building up the values to create shape.  Still a fair ways to go to soften her features and get the full likeness but she is starting to take shape. 

Her lips still look too tight but they should soften up by the next update once I fill out the facial shadows around them and soften the edges. 

Her hair is really starting to take shape and there will be little dark flowers on the barrette and I will tone it down a bit even though it is white as I don't want it stealing the focus off of her face.

Graphite Portrait Commission of Daughter - Establishing Values

I have started filling in the values and establishing her features more accurately.  Her lips look a little too stern right now and she looks a little more mature as her plumpness has not been factored in yet.  I am slowly building up the values ensuring that I keep her features soft and smooth while creating depth. 

I chose a smoother paper than usual for this portrait to make the process easier.  It is a good idea to use a smoother paper for portrait of younger people and a rougher paper for more mature subjects as may as well have paper that is working with you not against you ;)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Graphite Portrait Commission of Daughter - Rough Sketch

This is the rough sketch of a totally adorable little girl that I am drawing in graphite pencil for a portrait commission for my client's anniversary gift.  I received several reference photos to chose from but this pose just is so priceless.

The finished piece will only be 8x10" (11x14" framed) but because the reference photo is so clear and such great quality I am going to be able to add in tons of detail.  Such a treat to be working from such a great clear photo as the more detail in the photo the more character and essence of the subject comes through in the finished piece :)

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Completed

Well it is not just because I did not want to leave the last update on this numbered as 13, I really did do a few edits.  They are probably not noticeably unless I point them out though :)

I added more branches to a tree and made the tree line more random in areas.  Added a hinge on the door and facial hair in the reflection, opps, totally forgot to do that.  It is funny when working from various reference photos sometimes the obvious does not click because I am so focused on analyzing the reference I am working from, not the reality of the collage ;)  

I think it is complete though now and I am quite happy with it.  Online does not do it justice as I just can't seem to get a decent photo as it always comes out blurry in photos.  Could it be that the size and strong darks are throwing the values off, not my crummy photography skills, hmm.  Still waiting for sun too so maybe tomorrow it will make an appearance :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #13



I finished up the inside of the piano and then did a few minor adjustments to the trees and the islands.  I think this commission is completed but will wait to see if my client has any final adjustments needed.  Of course it is a rainy day today (spring, really?) so the quality of the photo is not great but hopefully the sun will make an appearance tomorrow so I can get a decent photo :)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Student Drawing Critique - Pet Portrait Workshop - Sally

Sally's Drawing

Reference Photo
This is another student's drawing from the past Pet Portrait workshop.  She really worked hard, evening doing homework after a full day at the workshop and it clearly paid off as she very nearly completed both her dog portrait and her cat portrait over the weekend.  Sally has done a really great job, she really pushed her darker values right from the start and has a great eye for her tonal values and you can almost feel the softness of the fur.

I have to really look hard to find areas to improve as nothing is jumping off the screen to me, which is a very good thing :)  So I have just itemized a few minor areas to focus on
  • the direction of the fur on the cats back (not shoulder) could be slightly more curved upward at the tips of the fur and a bit more varied in length 
  • darkening the values slightly along the outer edge of the ca'ts back will give the illusion that his body is starting to curve back in and helps the viewer's eye stay inside the drawing area.  This is a good trick in all drawings/paintings, having the outside edges slightly grayed down or darker so that the viewer's eye is drawn into the artwork
  • his right paw angles outward in the reference photo and in the drawing angles inwards, chest fur is more curved downward in reference photo and softer, upper chest fur extends too far out on lower portion of neck and not far enough out on upper portion - these changes makes no difference if you are not looking at the reference photos but if you are doing a commission or more specific features (ie eyes, nose) this is something that you would want to take note of 
  • darkening the edge of his right cheek and adding a bit more of a curve will give more of a rounded shape to his head and create just a bit more depth & the dark markings on his body are not as wide in real life and form a bit of an arrow which gives the feeling of him crouching again adding more shape
  • darkening the base of his ears slightly will give the illusion of the distance between the ear opening and the edge of his head (where I scratchily drew the circles in blue)
  • darkening the top lighter area on his forehead (circled in blue) slightly will give more of a rounded shape to his head


His eyes and ears are done exceptionally well and the carpet and cast shadows look awesome!  Again these are all really minor changes that would push this drawing to the next level if you wanted to have the cat's portrait as accurate as possible, say for a commission.  Excellent job Sally!

 Again, this pet portrait of Lucy (such an adorable dog) is really very well done so just a few more advanced tips for pushing the drawing to the next level.  I will start with a few compliments though as I really love the velvety feel of her ears and how Sally handled the changing shapes and textures within the ears.

The eyes are very expressive and warm and she has captured the wet glossy feel by having those really dark values against the bright highlights of the eyes.  The darks are not flat black holes though, as they are several different values of darks which create more depth and shape, very well done :)
I attached a photo with areas highlighted in blue where the values could be slightly darkened.  This will add more of a rounded shape to Lucy's head giving a more three dimensional feel.   The white area under her chin (on her chest) could also be shaped a bit more.  It is not visible in the reference photo (photos always lie ;)) so you have to imagine the shape of her chest and where areas such as her muscles and bones from her front legs would cause the fur to curve and add shadows accordingly.  Again this would be an advanced step to take the drawing to the next level.  If you are unsure of how something is in the reference photo you are working from, try to find a photo of a similar pose to get the idea of how the body structure works and then relate it to your portrait. I drew circles roughly where I thought the shadowing should be but just a guess on my part :)

The line over the top of the nose indicates where the dark area of the nose has gotten a little too rounded, giving a heart shape feel.  Softening and removing a bit of the curvature will give a more natural feel.  The square above the nose or top area, shows where the lines have gotten just a little too linear and defined.  Again softening and varying this area will give a more natural feel as well.  These are all very minor changes and the drawing works just fine without these edits but pushing a little further will really make this portrait even more three dimensional.