29 December 2014

Portrait in Oil of My Mother

Well Done 10x16", Oil on board

A new painting titled "Well Done"...a portrait of my mother.  It is a 2014 Mother's Day present I am finally delivering.  I painted her once before in 2012 from a photo taken in 2006.  The difference between these is a change of palette and a couple years of painting experience. And she's 8 years older.

Nancy L. Moore 2006, 12 x 16", Oil on linen

I tried something new here, painting the color study on drafting vellum instead of canvas.  Drafting vellum (mylar) has been around a while, but it's new to me.  It has a nice matte surface, creamy  and non-absorbent.  Easy to store in a notebook or flat file. And inexpensive.   Linda Tracey Brandon posted on using it for oil sketches.  Katherine Stone posted on using it for quick color studies.

Following Katherine's procedure, the preparatory study is photo-reduced then placed under the transparent vellum.  The color study is painted over the reduced photocopy, which eliminates futzing around with the drawing during the oil study.  Saves a lot of time. 

Color study on drafting vellum, 5"x8"

Here is my preliminary drawing (charcoal and white chalk on colored paper, 8x12").  She's not as stern-looking as I've drawn her here.  But the big shapes are correct, so the drawing is good enough.  To transfer to the gessoed board, I photocopied this to the final head size I wanted (7"), then traced it over an interleave of graphite-coated paper.  I re-stated the graphite tracing in India ink.  

Here's the progression of the actual painting...

After tracing my drawing, I did a raw umber underpainting to map general values.  I didn't need to do this step, but I like having some underpainting show through in the final piece.

I loosely covered the underpainting with thin layers of color.  No details yet.  I just needed something to paint into.  The background and foreground are completed at this point.

Time to work on the important parts...the first pass of the features and neckline/necklace. Adding the smaller planes of the face and trying not to overwork it, which is my tendency. 

A second pass on the important parts and the painting is done.  Hope she likes it.


  1. Hi Candace,
    This is a great painting. In my humble opinion, the best you've produced to date. All your work is professional and impressive, but this, in addition to exceptional drawing and color, has a warmth and depth of feeling rarely achieved by any of us.
    Not being a critic or professionally trained painter, I won't feel bad if you dismiss this comment. I love this painting and congratulate you on it. I feel that it would take the top prize in any portrait competition you decide to enter it in.
    Well Done, indeed! Have a wonderful New Year.

    1. Gary, A welcome comment, much thanks. Artists paint for themselves, but I won't deny that it's gratifying to know that the work resonates with other viewers. Thanks for following and for taking the time to send your comment.

      Best in 2015, Candace

  2. Lovely painting Candace, your work has definitely matured with this one - well done indeed!

    1. Hi, Jeremy, Thanks for your kind words and for your visit. Best wishes for 2015.

  3. Hi, Candace.
    Thank you for your comment on my blog re: how to mount a painting to a cradle. I love to discover new artists and I am so impressed by your beautiful portraits. Your mother 2014 version is capturing a spirit!

    1. Thanks for visiting and for your kind comment, Margaret. People like looking at beautiful faces, but sometimes there is more beauty in age. That's my opinion, anyway.

  4. I agree with Gary...such an outstanding painting! I love it. Tell us, did your Mother like it too? I sure like that sidelong look --she is a woman who knows a lot. It's wonderful!

    1. When I finally unveiled the painting for her...she gave me an affirming nod and a smile. She liked it.

      You're right, Celeste, she is wise. I value being able to go to her when I need advice. We'd all be better off if we listened to our elders more, imo. Thanks for your comments.