11 December 2014

Double Portrait Commission

I just finished this portrait of a husband and wife, B and K.  I posted the color study a while back.  Arranging 2 people in a composition is hard, I think.  The challenge of the double portrait is to find a pleasing composition of 2 bodies that avoids the predictable.  I thought about encouraging them to go with 2 single portraits, but a double is what they wanted.  In the end, the commission was a good learning experience, and the clients were happy with the result.

Portrait of B and K, 24 x 30", oil on linen

I always have a painting or 2 on display for inspiration.  For this portrait it was the painting below, by the English portrait artist Alastair Adams, of Tom and Dominie Newton Dunn.  Love that intertwining pose. So fresh and intimate. I wanted some of that in B and K's portrait.

"Young Couple" by Alastair Adams PPRP

Some technical notes on the double portrait of B and K:
I started with a burnt umber underpainting.  Once dry, I covered the entire canvas with a loose thinned layer of paint, approximating the colors of the big shapes.  Half the painting was left in this loose, single-layer state, with underpainting showing through extensively.  You can see it clearly on his pants, the sofa cushions and background.  
 The clothes, arms and hands were modeled more carefully with a second layer of paint.

Finally, I went all out on the faces, which were painted in 5 or 6 layers, hoping the contrast between the rendered faces and the loose surroundings would make those faces stand out.

The set-up involved 2 light sources, a warm overhead light coming from behind, and a cooler dimmer light from the right.  I pushed the color temperatures slightly to emphasize that lighting scheme. You can see this most clearly on his shirt.  The shoulders are brightest and warmed with yellow ochre, the chest is less bright and cooled with cerulean blue, and the shadows are warm purple. 



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