Tracking through some old Facebook posts I stumbled across a 2012 series in which I described the painting a portrait of my daughter Rhiannon. At the time I whined about how my Keratoconus impacted my ability to see properly. I guess it was the year before I had to have an operation on left eye and my sight was pretty bad. But let’s forget that and look at how I went about painting it.
The first thing I did was prime the canvas brown. I did that because I wanted a dark background and I felt that somehow that was a good idea. I sketched the rough shape of Rhiannon’s face on the brown and then started throwing white acrylic paint on the parts which I knew would be lighter. After that I through some blue/black acrylic on the darker areas.
I posted at the time: 17 November 2012 – “Rhiannon hates this next step, which is to paint white over the areas which will either be highlighted in the final painting of have bright colours. She says it makes her look like a clown.”
Checking Facebook again I see my justification for using acrylics before oil: 18 November 2012 – “Added some yellow. Note this is my under painting. Back in my youth when I did not have money, I would do under paintings in cheap water-based paints, then use oil for the true over painting. Even though I have the money now and oil colours are cheap, I am sticking to what I know. Trust me, the finished product won’t look this bad (she almost looks like a pirate with a patch in this underpainting!!!)”
When I read that I can see how desperate I was to tell everyone that it would not be as bad as I felt it was going to be. LOL.
Again with acrylics I started adding some flesh tones and blues. These were intended to guide me when I started with the oils. I played with those acrylics a fair bit and for a while Rhiannon looked a bit like an alien (see the first image below). But eventually I got to the point where I was prepared to add the oil colours (last picture in the row below).
My Facebook entry for 24 November 2012 reads: “Today I started the over-painting in oil colours by doing my first layer over the face-proper and the background. Did not do ear, hair, headband or top. Lightly touched eyes, but will address those in second layer.”
Finally I felt that Rhiannon was starting to look human! It was such a relief.
30 November 2012: “I played subtly with light and shadow on the face. That involved tints I made using a little colour mixed into liquin. I also started work on the hair using burnt umber, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, white, etc.”
15 December 2012: “Starting to get close to a conclusion. When I get it framed I might trim it a bit as body extends too far down and a bit too much darkness at top. I still need to add eye-lashes. Hopefully my skills will improve the more I paint.”
6 January 2013: “Completed! Added eye-lashes, made skin rosier, added diagonal blue to background to make more interesting and suggest light source. Given my existing skill levels, I have decided that this is the best I can do. There are several things about it that I feel I did not do well (e.g. eye lashes). I played a bit and actually made things worse, so I decided to stop while it was reasonable. Thanks all for the support “
So yes, here it is, the portrait that I painted of my daughter in 2012. Perhaps not brilliant, but full of love.
Now you know why I have abandoned brushes and mostly do digital art where 3D models compensate for the distortions in my sight!
Thanks for reading.