16 February 2017

Fresh Paint: Portrait of Timothy

It's been a very long time since I painted a face.  I spent 2016 studying landscape.  Even though I haven't done a portrait in a while, I feel those landscape lessons spilling over into my figurative work.  All training helps. 

I forgot what a solid pleasure it is to paint people.  And to be honest, at this point, I'm less concerned with the final result, and more interested in the process and capturing my responses to my subjects.  I show up in the studio and the Muse takes care of the rest.  That seems to be a good partnership for me at the moment.

Portrait of Timothy, oil on linen, 12x16"

My main technical focus here was on value.  I wanted a subtle value contrast between light and shadow. Something more nuanced than my normal approach of bright lights and dark shadows.  I lit the subject with soft, indirect natural light (outdoor shade), rather than a single direct spot light.  The underlying challenge was to keep the value families on the shadow and light sides separated.  When they overlap, the illusion of 3D form is lost.

I also wanted more interesting flesh colors.  I'm getting bored with the skin tones I get from my limited palette. The limited palette is a good tool for learning how to mix paint, and a lot of teachers argue that it produces better color harmonies.  Maybe.  But at some point all those beautiful, juicy oil colors out there need to be explored, too.

For this painting I used a palette of 11 colors vs my normal 6.  The flesh tones in this piece were based on terra rosa and naples yellow, instead of cad red light and yellow ochre, which I used in the past...a hold over from my 'Zorn palette' student days.

Here is the progression in 4 steps.  Follow this link for a description of my process.  That's enough for now.  Happy painting.

The framed portrait...