I've been commissioned to create a few watercolor portraits. "You mean it actually needs to look like the person"! Panic mode, insecurity mode, worry mode, over achiever mode Judy has walked into the studio ;)
So... I have an idea, let's let that "mode" have at it, let her run rampant and paint. Get it all out and then get onto the real painting. Think it will work?
Here's her tight, panicked portrait that looks nothing like how I paint...wait for it, it's funny...
It somewhat resembles the subjects, but oh my, panic mode Judy needs to have a glass of wine and chill the heck out. Maybe if we ignore her she'll go away ;)
La de da, da de da, lalalala de da.
Is she gone yet? I think the coast is clear.
Now let's get to work shall we :)
A double portrait of two adorable brothers, sons of a family friend. I have my reference photo. A good photo, nice and clear, but a little soft in the light source department. I really like a strong one sided light source. It creates great shadows that help define characteristics. It helps, especially when trying to capture a likeness of somebody I've never met.
I start with a sketch, free handed. Many artists will trace the photo. I admit that is a great way to achieve a picture perfect likeness, but there is something about the loose artists drawing hand that adds life to a work that often times is missing in a traced piece.
That being said, creating the sketch free hand involves more time and some erasing to get the features correct. One wrong move and panic mode Judy will be wandering back thru the studio again.
Hey, did somebody mention wine...
Washes of pigment go on. I try to paint the shadows first, this sets the light scale for me. I know now what to leave white, (a.k.a leave the white un-painted paper). Watercolor, for me, is more about knowing what not to paint vs. what to paint. That's a hard thing to learn. Overworking a piece is something I constantly struggle with and think perhaps I always will. Here comes that pesky perfectionist Judy, quick somebody distract her! "Hey Judy, I think there's a sock drawer downstairs that needs organizing"...
That worked, she's happily arranging downstairs ;)
More washes, more layers, a few details...
I'm pleased at this point. I like the simple background and think I've achieved a fresh looseness while maintaining a likeness.
Some decisions need to be made here...do I add another color for the clothing or keep it white? How far do I push the hair? Are there any structural changes that need to happen? A good time to walk away, think and see if perfectionist Judy has finished that sock drawer. I think there are some dirty dishes that need her attention in the kitchen sink ;)
I've decided to keep the shirts white. I think this will give an overall crisp feel to the painting. The hair will be loosely painted with some areas getting a bit of detail.
Insecure Judy has been sent outside to think about her attitude and how she can change it...in case you all were wondering where she was today, insert evil laugh ;)
Boom! Hair! Wow makes a difference doesn't it.
Aaaaannnd some details. Fussing a bit with the mouths, with the eyes, adding a little darkness to bring out features. "Worry Judy, please go away. Really, it's fine, it's going to be o.k.". Whew that was close, she actually picked up a brush. Brushes down everyone! Yes you too over achiever mode, it's finished.
"Is it done? I don't know? Do you think it's done" cry's panic mode Judy. "why did we paint this in the first place", says insecure mode Judy, "there are so many more talented artists out there". "I hope they like it" pipes in worry mode Judy. "You missed a spot," perfectionist Judy loudly declares as she stares at me waving the paint brush. I just shake my head, smile and quietly clean my brushes to prepare for the next job.
I painted 4 portraits today. I don't have much to say about them...it was fun and is getting easier. I am wondering why I've pressured myself to complete this challenge. I don't think anybody really cares about what I'm doing. I guess it really doesn't matter, it's more important if I care about this challenge...do I care about the challenge? Yes and no. I don't want to be known as the children portrait painter, which now that some people have seen this challenge are saying, "Judy that's what you should do". Really, I didn't know I was in need of finding something to do. Hmmm I thought I was doing what I was doing, being an artist. Painting what inspires me, whatever that may be. I really have never understood why society feels the need to pinpoint artists. "You have to choose a medium" "You have to choose a subject". It all sounds very confining to me. I just want to create, make beauty, share it, have it touch people somehow and I want to use any meadium to do that. Right now I'm using watercolor and painting children, but next month it may be something else. Heck it might not even be a 2 dimensional material. I may spend the month creating wonderful meals for my husband, or designing and creating a new garden. Whatever...I'm going to just keep doing what I do. For those 3 people that read this ;) enjoy and sorry for the moodiness of my post :)
The Brunettes and The Blondes ~ Sisters, watercolor on Arches cold press
Is it July yet? The sky is beginning to look like summer and it being the first day of actual summer I'm getting antsy to put my brushes down for a bit. It will be nice to drink in the summer and create with gardens vs. paint :)
I've achieved twenty portraits. Only 10 to go...I will be attempting siblings as a way to reach my goal of 30 before months end.
Number 17: Irish Kisses, sourced from Paint My Photo, thank you Barbara Tester :)
At first I wasn't all that pleased with this, thinking it to be more illustrative than a true portrait...and it may well be, but it has grown on me and I can see some of the good things I did with the paint.
Onto 18 - argh! I'm calling this Nutty Butty, not because of what he's eating, but because it drove me nutty! I am NOt pleased with the result and have fussed, fussed, fussed with it...it's done, not great work, but hey, they can't all be good :/
Nineteen turned out well, if I may say so myself :) again sourced from a Paint My Photo member, Li Newton. This is Joshua, I haven't come up with a title for him yet, any ideas. I am proud I maintained the light source. I also liked painting dark skintones. The darker pigment reflects light and let's me add all sorts of yummy colors :)
And finally 20 - our good friends son Andrew, giving his Father a somewhat quizzical look. maybe I shoulfd title this, "What Dad?!". I had fun with this and threw down salt in the background and chose hot colors to play with. I think it worked out well :)
That's it for boys, onto siblings and if time a do-over of a few. I have this idea of showing all thirty somewhere and calling the show June Kids, by Judy. Corny, I know ;)
Have a nice weekend all and thanks for stopping in to see what's on the easel :) ~ Judy
Number 15, otherwise known as "Oliver". Let's see, what do I know about little Oliver? First of all, he's my cousin. The first born to my first cousin Frank and his lovely wife Mandy. So that makes Oliver my first cousin once removed...right? He's adorable, he has big, I mean BIG blue eyes and chunky cheeks that beg to be smothered in kisses.
His portrait went fast, I must have been in the mood to paint. If all the forces align I can whip out a painting pretty darn fast. If anything is off, and I mean anything, then I know it will be a struggle ;)
I seem to becoming more confident with my brush strokes, I seem to know what will happen with the pigment more than I did on # 1. By not trying to control the paint so much some nice things are happening. I say this, but last night I did a bad thing...I looked at other artists portraits. Gawd! Don't do that while you're in the middle of a challenge like mine. It fills your prior thought of "nice things are happening" to you stink, put the brush down and give up lady, cause you don't know a thing! Extreme thoughts, I know, but the insecurities and temperament of artists...well let's just say we are a critical bunch when it comes to our own work. That I do know ;)
Not letting my negative thoughts take over, today I proceeded onto number 16.
I'm calling him "Little Big Man". Cool dude with the shades, but oh what a pout ;) here's a progression for you...
I actually went back in from the third photo and removed a lot of paint. I softened him up a bit. It's always a struggle of correction, layer it in, take it out, a little more, a little less. I think with watercolor, knowing what not to paint is just, if not more, important than knowing what to paint.
I may attempt number 17 today? I can't believe over half the day has disappeared! I still haven't had breakfast and it's way past lunch time. I'm hungry, this I know! Latah all and thanks for reading :)
I'm getting tired and feeling the pressure that I have self induced. I feel like Martin from The Simpsons, "I brought this on myself" ;)
I've made it to number 14, with some success and with some frustration. I can see that I'm bolder with my brush strokes and richer with the pigment, yet I still struggle with the likeness. I hope that I am capturing the essence of the subject? I have noticed as I paint I am more concerned about the light than the shape, so perhaps that is where I need to work and improve. Once shape, proportion, color, value all come together...THEN I think it will be very satisfying :)
Here's lucky 13 :
I like letting the paint run :) the progression for you to see some of my steps to the final
Both of these subjects are from a source that I found a few years ago and didn't utilize. I re-discovered it and really like the site. paint my photo, a wonderful source of inspiration for artists. Both these boys are grandsons of PMP friends. Here's number 14,
Those eyes were fun to paint :)
It's Friday so I think I will be taking the weekend off, but come Monday I'll need to paint two or three to complete this challenge. Hmmm, I best rest up, this is exhausting ;) Enjoy and thanks for reading :)
Two portraits in to my challenge of the month. I somehow accomplished ten girls and felt with each one, my approach went more smoothly. As for boys, so far they really aren't much different than girls. Perhaps it's because they are young and one doesn't have to worry about any chiseled features yet ;)
Number 1 boy 11th portrait:
He's a cutey isn't he, and he has two equally adorable brothers to inspire me :)
A montage of the work in progress for your viewing pleasure...
The next portrait hasn't received much feedback. I'm not sure if it's the painting or me overloading folks with my work. I'm hoping it's because I'm obnoxious and not that it's a failed painting ;) funny, I can live with annoying people, but not failing at my art. Ohh the temperament of the artist ;)
I thought this painting was very illustrative and tried combining it with type. Kind of works don't ya think?
Thanks for reading and putting up with my obnoxious self :) onto number 13. Hmmm, who shall it be ?
Let's see, where did I leave off...number 6...what's today's date? When I get going like this I have a tendency to lose complete track of time and life in general. I become oblivious to the world around me, that includes my wonderful husband.
Poor man had nothing for breakfast the other day because I didn't get to the grocer. The laundry has piled up and the kitchen counters...where are the kitchen counters, because I can't see them ;) it's all in the name of art so that makes it o.k.....right? :)
Number 7 : a sweet girl painted from a PMP source, Sammy's photo of her grandaughter.
I think I went more illustrative with this. I did a lot scrubbing to pull out the lights. What's scrubbing you ask? It's going in with a clean wet brush and re-wetting the surface and either blotting or soaking up the pigment. I recently tried the 'magic eraser' trick and like it with mixed results. If not careful one can magic erase the surface of the paper. Once the surface is scrubbed and damaged there isn't any coming back from that. Can we say, "ruh roh!"
number 8 : sourced from Facebook, I nosed my way around many of my friends photo's for inspiration. This one spoke to me loudly. Such an adorable little girl, all pretty in pink sporting the most annoyed expression. I can just imagine her thoughts, 'leave me alone to play, it's hot!'
Here is a progression, she developed pretty quickly. I used a pigment I haven't tried before, Dr. Martin's watercolor ink. It's concentrated and intended for airbrush use. One tiny dab went a looooonnnnnngg way. It stains the paper so there isn't any amount of scrubbing that will remove it. So, one must trust in thy self and just go for it. I think I did :)
Number 9 : not sure I want to even share number nine... The force just wasn't with me. Let's just say I learned what not to do and leave it at that ;)
number 10 : this portrait has special meaning to me. It's of a young girl I met in Ireland. Her mother and I are FB pals. We got to meet for lunch last June when I visited Ireland with my family. This sweet child charmed me through and through. She has a spark in her and such a loving presence. I will never forget something she said, when my Mom asked her how she learned to dance, she replied with a big smile, "it's my special talent." There was no conceit in the statement, nothing bragotty about it, just a matter of fact knowlege. How I wish we all could as innocently say, it's my special talent, and feel it was o.k. to announce. Out of the mouths of babes :) well world, I think art is my special talent and I'm proud to share it with you all. Thank you Caoimhe for teaching me something :)
Here's Caoimhe with her new dog.
I'm calling it "Puppy Love"
It's Friday today, looking forward to the weekend with Peter. Brushes down and adventure time together is in need. Maybe wash a dish or two ;) enjoy all and see you next week. I'll be starting ten paintings of boys...wonder if I'll approach them differently than girls? (That was a cliff hanger in case you didn't notice, lol) see ya :)
Today's adventure in watercolor went to a fun place. I got out the sea salt. WHAT?! Salt for painting? For those of you that might not be painters I will explain. Salt absorbs water, so if put down onto a wet surface it will soak up the water along with the paint pigment. Once dried, it leaves behind the most beautiful crystal echo's on the paper.
A friend sent me a photo of her adorable daughter in a giant fur hat and I thought it would be the perfect subject to incorporate a salt technique.
I started with a sketch
Cute isn't she :)
Then I wet my paper. I put water only where I wanted pigment to travel. The paint will only go where I let it. If I had wet the entire paper the the pigment would bleed everywhere. This is one way to control watercolor:)
I mixed cad. Red with Prussian blue and then added straight dioxide purple and Prussian blue to the already painted surface. While it is wet I scattered my salt.
Next are the flesh tones. I want the face to pop. I went with a more orange tone and green for shadows. The green plays off of the red and purple of the hat and the orange off of the blue. Those are complimentary colors, (opposite on the color wheel). I'm not worried about the dripping paint, I kind of like it, as it adds to the texture of the hat and gives the painting movement.
I have give the paint some drying time (about 30 min.) and then went in with water and a brush and pulled out some highlights. This is another way to control the "uncontrollable" medium of watercolor :)
Finally some details with a striping brush and the portrait is finished. This one was fun, hope you liked it :)
Thanks for stopping by Lot 5 studio, come back now ya hear ;)
I want to be one of those artist that seem to just have it. You know...it...that ease of self, that confidant approach to their work. That attitude that only comes from knowing 'you got this'. Alas, I don't have "it", not yet.
Four hours of painting child portraits today in the vein of my monthly challenge. Three hours on one, that I failed miserably with, and one with another that I failed somewhat with.
Here's number 4 in the succession
I completely overworked this, got caught up in trying to achieve a likeness that I didn't step back to get a better idea. It's stiff and stagnant. Some good things I think are the loose background and some areas of the clothing. I will try this same one again until I get it right.
So after being so tight and sweating the details, I rebelled and approached this portrait with a loose fast brush. Get in, get out. Unfortunately this too looks nothing like the inspiration, but I do really like how I captured the light. That pleases me ;)
Brushes down for the day. Tomorrow I will continue and perhaps find a happy medium between the two approaches of today and hopefully be able to capture a better likeness of the subject.
*EDIT - I couldn't help myself, I went back into the fifth portrait,
Subtle changes and photographed in daylight. I think it makes a difference and I am much more pleased with the end result.
An entire year plus some has passed since I've written here. So much has happened! The biggest thing is my husband and I haved moved. We left our Virginia dream home on Lot 5 and have moved North. It wasn't the happiest change in our lives, but we are remembering that we are lucky to still have a full glass, it's just now filled with something different that takes a bit of getting use to.I have been painting quite a bit of late, but we still have to set up a clay studio in our new location. It will all come together eventually.I will try to post here more often and continue to share our creative world. We still are Lot 5 studio and now live on Lane Road...so Lot 5 at Lane it is. Stay tuned....