19 February 2019

Fresh Portrait Commission - Jack at Three

Today's post is a portrait commission I just completed.  This is 3-year-old Jack.  The challenge here was to keep the painting of this little guy from becoming too sentimental and sweet and slick.  My strategy was to keep the paint application somewhat blocky.  Pulling lots of straight strokes and avoiding blending brushstrokes together where possible. And trying always to leave well enough alone.

Jack at Three, oil on linen, 16x20"

Before starting this portrait, I did a charcoal and white chalk drawing to familiarize myself with the focal point, Jack's face.  I also did a color study (1/4 size) for client approval.

Jack, preparatory sketch, charcoal and white chalk on paper

Jack, color study, 8x10"

And I thoroughly mapped out the values I would use for the final painting.  I'm big on making sure the values are correct.  These do not come from the photo reference, which is always incorrect.  I decide how I want the piece to appear and adjust the values based on that.  In this painting, the diffuse light is coming from a window across the room.  To convey that, I limited the value range on the face to 4 steps (values 4-7 on my 10-value scale).

During the painting phase, I applied 3 layers of paint, which are shown below.

The first was a quick covering of the big shapes in average color/value paint mixtures.  This gets the canvas covered and provides a good background for the next step.

Layer 1: Stating the big average shapes

The second layer starts the modelling the form to produce dimensionality and depth in the picture plane, using all the tricks of the trade, at least all the ones I know.

Layer 2: Modeling the forms and creating depth

Finally, in the 3rd layer I'm adding details like highlights and accents, finessing the edges and adding color notes. I'm also correcting drawing mistakes, for example: the shapes of the eyes and lips.  

Layer 3: Adding details

After the painting rests for a few days, I take one more look for adjustments before signing it.

Here is the finished painting in the frame selected by the client.


If you are in the market for a fine art portrait as a gift or family heirloom, please contact me at candacexmoore at gmail.com to discuss your needs. 

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