29 March 2011

Another Portrait of My Daughter


I finally finished a second studio portrait of my daughter, Amanda.  She is intensely independent, but not quite ready to leave the nest...this is the dichotomy I hoped to capture in the portrait.  Completion of this painting required a long and convoluted process, not unlike the process of parenting a child.


Fledgling  Oil on linen, 24 x 18"

The seed for this image came from a painting by Giovanni Boldini, entitled "Portrait of Joaquin Araujo y Ruano"...a striking piece from Boldini's private collection.  I chose a similar pose for Amanda.  In the final portrait, she sits on a chair which was used at our kitchen table when I was a child, a symbol of family, but also resembling a cage or restraint.  Behind her is a window overlooking bare branches and a broad sky...the wide-open world she will enter soon enough.


Portrait of Joaquin Araujo y Ruano by Giovanni Boldini, 1882

To create this work, I followed a procedure described in a previous post.  The whole process  took about 40 hours to complete

A few key lessons I learned during the process:
  • Don't force the model into a pose, it will look unnatural.  Show the model what you're aiming for, then let her do the rest.
  • My primary reference image was a composite of Amanda in a synthetic background created in Photoshop.  I learned how to create Photoshop composites from Digital Art Revolution by Scott Ligon.  Very clear descriptions with step-by-step tutorials.  Indispensable.
  • In my portraits, likeness emerges as the painting progresses.  I am constantly adjusting the face to improve likeness, right up to the finish.  I do whatever it takes to get the likeness, including moving features or scraping areas.  If I'm using a photo reference, I often paint with the canvas upside-down. 

This is probably my last painting of Amanda for a while.  She doesn't want to pose for me anymore.  I'm looking for a new muse...

18 comments:

  1. A lovely painting of your beautiful daughter! Thank you for also sharing the reference painting. It is always interesting to see what motivates and inspires.

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  2. Wonderful portrait, very mystery!

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  3. Gorgeous! The robin about to take flight another bit of beautiful symbolism in your painting too? I admire how you captured her intense gaze contrasted by those lovely soft hands!

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  4. Very nice Candace! Her expression shows a strong, independent young woman. Do you find painting a family member, especially a close family member, difficult because of the extra feeling and attachment to the person? Do you feel more "in your head" about it than say painting a total stranger or commissioning client?

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  5. Great portrait very dramatic - kudos!

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  6. Deborah, I agree. It's interesting to hear about the inspiration for a piece or the decision points that went into a final painting. Those are the greatest challenges in the creative process imo.

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  7. Matt and Kathrin, Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

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  8. Sheila, Thanks so much. The bird is there if any viewer taking a closer look, as you did. I really feel hands are a huge part of the portrait. A lot of times they're more interesting than the face. But way harder to paint well imo. Thanks for your comment. C

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  9. Hi, Gene. Good question on the connection to the subject. I haven't painted that many portraits, but the ones I've done need some motivation to get to a certain point. Once the painting is working, it seems to take on it's own momentum. Doesn't seem to matter what I'm painting. I haven't had a real bomb yet on a commission. That would probably be rough to have a deadline and be totally uninspired by what is on your canvas. Good self-discipline training :o)

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  10. What a stunning Portrait! The subject and sentiment are both so lovely. I see that little bird getting ready to leave the nest. Her serious expression seems to say that she knows the future is up to her and that she's determined to make it a successful one.

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  11. Thanks, Celeste. Appreciate the encouragement. C

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  12. Great job! If your daughter dont won't to pose,
    make her photos naturaly and after paint others portraits. Excuse - me with my english.
    Otávio

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  13. Otavio, I understand your message. My daughter is resistant to any photos. Her loss. I will find other models, perhaps one day she will see the value and pose again. Gracias por su visita y comentarios.

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  14. Being a birder my eye moved to the male american robin outside in what looks dawn lit clouds. Lovely effect and I do feel her independnece in her portrait....all my best.

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  15. Awesome painting it took my breath away. Love the painting in the background and the wonderful mystery surrounding your daughter. Great Hand.

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  16. There is always such scholarship behind your creative practice. Not content to be dripping with native talent, you illumine your work and us viewers with new understanding. Thanks for the Boldini background.

    What a beautifully realized hand resting on her forearm. Whatever threatening clouds are sweeping over her face, that hand says 'sensitivity'. I can see all that you mention with the bars on the chair and window leading outside.

    But i also see the hand laid in formal composition, and rebellion stirring in those eyes at being trapped in a pose, in a situation. There is a dark energy here. All the brightness is saved for her friends. Mums get cooperation but with attitude. So reminds me of how i was when i was young.

    A wonderful painting, Candace.

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  17. Harry,

    You are a double threat...a razor-sharp observer of human nature, with an incredible clarity of expression. I'd hate to be on the other side of an argument with you. That last paragraph in your comment to me is a complete work of art. Do you have children? You must.

    I've been gripped by your recent drawings, paintings, and comments on Fukushima and David Gulpilil. Powerful. I can feel the fire. Without wishing to exert any pressure...I am anxiously awaiting future works.

    Your jealous, virtual friend. Candace.

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