25 April 2012

Little Pearl

 Today's post is a portrait of my young niece, all dressed up for a holiday celebration this last winter.  Unlike the loose vignettes I've posted recently (here, here, and here), this painting is tighter and more formal...reflecting the subject.  It was also more time consuming... painted from a photo in 20 hours. 

It's taken a while to post because I'm not happy with the quality of the photos of this painting.  I'm adding a few detail images here to let you "step up" to the canvas for a closer look.  I am still trying to figure out how to paint images that look good both near and far.

Little Pearl, 16 x 12", Oil on linen





The progression for "Little Pearl":

Hours 1 through 6:   I start with a simple linear lay-in using thinned transparent maroon and ultramarine blue.  The head is about 7" high.  Next comes the loose block-in of the big shapes in average colors and values, as described here.  Finally, I work up the features.  At this stage the portrait starts to look back.

I like painting wet-into-wet, so I added 2 drops of clove oil to each fresh paint snake.  No need to mix.  This extends drying time to about 2 weeks.


Hours 7 -20:  Finishing the features and a first pass on the hair required 3 more hours.  At hour 10 (after finishing the first panel), I drew up a plan for how I would get to the finish. I listed the major areas in sequence so I could work all the edges and shapes into each other.  (I think it went [hair---neck and pearls---dress---chair---background---hair].)  It helped me stay focused and simplified the process. If your a beginner, try it.  If you're experienced, this sort of planning is probably subconscious.

I finished the background by adding a cast shadow on the left and a floral design to keep the eye moving and echo the shapes in the chair and dress.  The last hour was spent on small refinements...trying to make each shape and edge interesting.

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Before closing, I want to recommend a new online magazine "Artists on Art".  High density of information and images, and no ads.  The first issue includes 8 essays by featured artists, describing their ideas and processes.  Accompanying each article are abundant, large jpegs of the artists' works. Close-ups speak volumes.  A very high quality publication for cheap...$18 for online + pdf.

13 comments:

  1. wow Candace, I have closely followed all your work, and I think this is absolutely my favorite of yours. (Of course, it's possible that I may have thought that about each new one you put up). I really love the way the pearls are asymmetrical to the clothing and her expression is wonderful. Add to that the background and the lovely colors and well...wow. Thanks for the tip about the new publication. I like the looks of it. Thanks too for the progression shots and the reminder about clove oil. Excellent information. :)

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    1. Hi, Celeste. Finally getting back to thanking you for your nice words. Means alot. I just got the second issue of Artists on Art, and continue to think it's a great way to spend 14 bucks.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and for your comment, John.

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  3. Hi Candace,
    This is a very beautiful portrait of your niece and the stages too well explained by you! Its so nice that you could actually take photographs in between various stages in oil painting! I tried taking photos myself many a time... started with a photo of the initial drawing, then the first wash, before long realizing that the painting was over...lol

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    1. Ramesh, I would love to see some progressions of your work. They are all gorgeous in the end, wonder if there is an "ugly" phase to a watercolor, as I often see in my oil paintings. Would be very interested to learn more about your thought process. Thanks for your comments. Best.

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    1. Thanks for your comment on the blog, Bryan. Fun to have you in class this term.

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  5. Candace, you are amazing with portraits. Thanks for posting the progress of the painting.

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    1. Thanks, Deb. Glad you enjoyed the progression. BTW, the white fabric painting, using the advice you sent me, is on my list. Hope to do it very soon. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Best regards.

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  6. really like the design touches on the dress. Nice work!

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    1. Thanks, Steve. Love what I'm seeing over at your blog. Keeps getting better and better. Looks like your really working it. BTW I think your piece should have placed higher in that drawing competition. Just my opinion.

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  7. Absolutely adorable painting :-)
    It's interesting to read the difference in painting styles: you add clove oil to slow down the drying time, I add cobalt to speed it up so I can paint the next layer the next morning.
    You say that 20 hours is a long time and I wish I could finish any painting in 20 hours ;-)
    Great to see your way of working too .....

    By the way ... I oil my Japanese sword with clove oil, just as they did in the old samurai days (I studied 'Iaido' while I lived in Japan). Great protection and smells nice too.

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