Mother's Day is on May 12th and those fortunate enough to have their mom around will surely be thinking of ways to let their mom know how much she is loved. Those of us whose mom has passed will be yearning for that chance to ones again tell their mom how much they loved her.
My mom passed away not too long ago and Mother's Day fills me with sadness. I wish I could hold my mom and shower her with kisses, rather than talk to her in my head and yearningly look at her photos.
At one point I thought it would be great to paint her portrait, but it is still too soon. I have painted portraits of family members who have passed before and it is very difficult to paint a likeness when tears are streaming down your face. I do know though how many of us cling on to every photo that depicts our loved ones and how important it is to accurately paint the likeness of a dearly departed person.
A painting, unlike a photograph, has a very special ability. Depending on the time of day, something magical happens when light travels over the surface of a painting. Paint has the ability to reflect light and cast shadows and in the hands of a skilled portrait artist a painting can take on a lifelike quality that cannot be gained from a photograph.
I recently finished a portrait commission for a long time client, who had requested that I paint her recently deceased mom. It requires a special skill to bring life to a posthumous work since reference photos are usually rather old and not in the best condition. With patience and lots of attention to detail, it is possible to turn a dark or faded photograph into a lovely painted portrait as you soon will see.
When you compare the reference photo with the painting you can quickly see what I mean about there being a huge difference in quality and a lifelike appearance. The photo looks blurry and flat and her eyes can hardly be seen.
One of the few things that always get lost when I post small photos of larger paintings are the details, so here are some closeup shots of the painting.
Detail of the ear with earring
Painting teeth is difficult, especially when you can't really see them in the reference photo. It's a balance of darkening the teeth so they won't look like a Colgate commercial in super white, yet do not look too dark as to appear unhealthy. Teeth also need to be painted soft so they don't draw attention to them.
This mom wore a silk blouse and it was a bit tricky to get that silk sheen to look right. Personalizing a portrait with the deceased jewelry also adds to the authenticity of the portrait.
Oil Paint Texture
I like to balance my painting according to the principles of Ying and Yang. Opposites attract and here the background is created with lots of impasto painting as a contrast to the smooth looking paint on the figure. Sorry about the glare on the photo...
I often compare the original reference photo with the painting by propping my IPad up on my easel. I somehow managed to make my client's mom look younger, but fortunately, my client really liked how her mom looked.I truly hope that this custom painted portrait will bring some joy to my client and bring a smile to her lips whenever she looks at the painting and remembers her mom.