Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to plan a portrait (Part 3)

Voila! Here is the finished portrait. I kept it simple by unifying their clothing and giving it a solid background. I think that helps the focus to be on their faces. By doing a lot of the measuring ahead of time, I was able to focus on color mixing and value tones rather than painting over mistakes (I've learned my lesson over the years). So, I will be shipping it off on Monday.. a painting would be such a nice surprise for Christmas :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to plan a portrait (Part 2)

OK please don't judge me. This is not pretty, but it is the next step in my painting process. This is the underpainting. I like to do this for a couple reasons. It helps me to catch mistakes before I spend time mixing colors. If you look at the girl on the right, you can see that her body is much too small for her head. I may not have caught this as quickly if I hadn't done the underpainting. Also, it helps me to lay in some value structure (hence, the splotchy faces). It may not be pretty, but once I start putting color on top it gets better! Lastly, I really like layering lighter colors on top of darks because it gives the painting depth and interest.

One thing to remember when doing an underpainting... keep it thin. You want it to dry before you start painting color on top. (Also follows the "fat over thin" rule in order to prevent cracking). Stay tuned to see the final painting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to plan a portrait

It can be tricky to do a portrait of six kids but planning well in the beginning makes it a lot easier. Believe me, I am not the best planner but I put my non-meticulous ways to work to ensure fewer setbacks later on. I always start with a sketch. It may not look like much but it helps me familiarize myself with the faces and the composition. The pictures I was given to work with for this portrait were fairly small so I blew them up as much as I could without getting blurry. I had to work between two separate photos to get the best view of each child so drawing out the composition in a sketchbook helps to sort it out. I often make notes in the sketchbook to remind myself of ideas and colors.

Once I am ready to tackle the canvas I start laying out the composition in pencil. I don't normally do this because I usually enjoy just moving paint around and not tainting my canvas with pencil, although when I'm painting six portraits on one canvas I have to measure and re-measure and that is a little easier in pencil. I make sure to measure every head, set of eyes, forehead to chin, ear to ear.... you get the idea. This is not a mathematical method nor is it graphed out. I use my pencil or paintbrush to measure. It's more like eyeballing until you get it right. I like this method because I am still using my eyes rather than relying on a graph. I think it just works best for my brain. After this step is done it's time to start painting! My next post will be about the underpainting.