Friday, December 28, 2012

Commissioned Portrait

Just before Christmas, I completed and presented this commissioned portrait to a client. The portrait was of the client's mother, and also a relative of mine. Often times portraits depict a more serious guise, but when I think of this woman I see her smiling, so this expression was more appropriate. The finished piece is 20x16, oil on linen mounted on board.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Colored Pencil Portrait In Progress

Here's an update on my colored pencil portrait. Things are going very slowly, partly because I am only working an hour a day on this. I forgot to mention in my last post that this drawing is on regular paper, whereas I had been working on sanded paper for several of my more recent colored pencil drawings. In particular, I am working on Strathmore Bristol Vellum, which has a fine tooth texture. However, the grain does tend to show unless you really keep the pencil point sharp at all time to move in between all of the grooves of the paper. Personally, I get very lost in details if I work this closely (or slowly), so I just let some of the natural texture of the paper show. A few years ago I did a few pieces on Strathmore Bristol Plate, which is really smooth with an extremely fine texture, and I found that this gave a smoother look, though seemingly took fewer layers of color and was less forgiving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Slow Progress in Colored Pencil

I've started a new colored pencil piece, and after working in oil for so long, I am surprised at how slowly I am progressing. I work in layers in order to achieve the complex yet subtle skin tones, and typically start in darker colors, working toward mid-tones, and finishing with the lightest colors. I repeat this process many times throughout the drawing, as needed.

Here are a few snapshots of my progress thus far. The first is the drawing with only dark umber. The next two shots have some red and blue added. In the final photo, I have decided to start working the mid-tones and lights one section at a time, and have done most of the work on the father's face.

My process is somewhat similar to how I work in oil in that I create an "underpainting" as the foundation for my drawing, but very different in how slowly I build color, and also because my initial drawing and underpainting must be more refined in colored pencil. In both, I tend to work very quickly throughout the entire process. I think people would be surprised to see me work - I don't slowly move the pencil or paintbrush carefully rendering details, but rather move quickly and intuitively, trying not to worry too much about details until the very end. The "mistakes" I make are corrected with each subsequent layer, and the overall artwork ends up looking realistic.