Thursday, October 24, 2013

Turning a Photo into a Portrait

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of painting with my friend Jan Arduini.  Jan calls herself an "eclectic artists" and paints a wide range of subjects, all of which could be described as colorful.  Her ability to paint portraits is amazing and so I wanted to paint with her and learn more about the beginning steps taken to paint a portrait.  What is the approach needed to start and a good mixing recipe for the skin tone.  You can see Jan's artwork by visiting her Facebook page at Jan Harris Arduini

What I learned during my painting session was that it is better to pick a photo or subject that has a nice contrast of light and shadow across the face.  Straight on face shots sometimes lack that depth because of the lack of shadows.  In the picture I chose of granddaughter Katherine there are shadows cast by both her little arm and her very large and ornate hair bow.  The fact that she is reaching up with her little hand gives really good movement to the composition but boy did it play tricks on me as I was trying to sketch it out.  In relation to the size of her face the hand felt huge but that is because it is closer to you.  I decided rather than trying to draw in fingers that were not in the present in the photo I would try to paint a portion of the hand just like in the photo.

After a couple of hours of painting I am very happy with my results so far.  There are many more layers needed and tweaking of the facial features that have to be done.  I plan on painting the background in a nice rich brown so that all that pink just pops.  I plan to blog my progress in the next few days and talk about things I learn so check back for my following posts. 

Packing up after finishing an afternoon of painting and sitting at the gallery

Sweet Katherine- The reference photo I am using for my painting

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