The Favorite

the_favorite_portrait_by_nc

"The Favorite"

Oil on Canvas ~ 22 x 28 inches

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I love the way this painting turned out and I have to say after an entire month of painting nothing but dog portraits it felt really good to be able to paint a child. I decided to make a few adjustments in the garment so that it would read better. 

the_favorite_face_detail

In the close up shots you can see the different applications much better. I believe a painting has to be balanced, so I try to add variety by using different brush textures, alternating from smooth to thick applications from tight rendering to loose representational outlines.

Bringing that cheek out of the darkness and rounding it out was challenging. I ended up using my fingers and molding it around until I thought it had the proper roundness it needed. Finger painting is sooo much fun - it took me years to overcome my fear of messing up a painting and now I just go for it.

the_favorite_sheep_detail

The sheep has all sorts of colors in it's fur, from pink hue to pale yellow gray and brown tones. The key to making sense of all these colors was to stay within the right values so that the anatomy would not get lost. Here the brush strokes are clearly visible and most heavily applied. The photo flattens it out but if you get a chance to come to the Artist Eye Gallery in Laguna Beach in July, you will see what I mean. I still need this piece to dry and get it framed before it can be hung at the gallery.

Work in Progress5 watermark

Update:

It's starting to get crowded on the canvas - sheep are everywhere! I am trying to accomplish a feel of a meadow with sheep grazing. The trick here is to hint at the sheep, rather than fully develop, because they are suppose to support the focal point rather than steal the show. A tough thing for me to do since I just love details of any sort.:)

The meadow will get some more flowers and grass details and the whole painting will get further tweaked, but as you can see it is slowly coming together. It still needs a title, so if you have a suggestions feel free to leave a comment.

Work in Progress4

Update:

I love to paint children and to show the innocents of their faces. This young girl is no exception and as I am trying to round out her features I have to constantly remind myself to keep everything about her soft. The backdrop has been further developed and more paint has been applied. In the initial under painting the bands of values were very distinguishable and are more and more fusing together as the painting gets further developed. I have not really worked on the hands much, but they will receive their due attention shortly. I have let the painting sit now for a week to dry to the touch. Before I do anything I will oil the painting out by putting dabs of Lindseed oil all over the canvas. Dark colors have a tendency to sink in and become dull and the oiling out helps to see the values with equal intensity. Should I make mistakes, these are also easily removed, since the support has had enough time to dry. Starting with the largest areas 1st another layer of paint will get applied Since the face is the most important and most developed part, it will remain so as I tweak and adjust it. Everything else becomes subservient to the face even as the canvas gets more and more filled with secondary elements and embellishments.

Work in Progress3

Update:

At this stage the main color gets blocked in for preparation of

further refinement and further enhancement of all the elements in the painting. Taking care to stay as close to the predesignated values in the under painting, slight adjustments are made along the way. This will be followed by many more layers of paint, but already the picture lane clearly defines foreground, middle ground and back ground. My girl will be wearing a hoodie and jeans, but I have not decided on the color quiet yet.

Work In Progress2

Update:

When I work out the under painting I sit at my easel and wonder what it is I want to say with this painting. In a way the initial elements such as the model and props are like pieces on a chess board. I gather the main pieces and start to place them on the support. As I look at what's there an idea or story line starts to form. A nice by-product of inhaling painting fumes - I think! :)

Here the figure is forming a pyramid, dominating the foreground, with the sheep being safely cradled a bit off center. The young girl looks to one side and is obviously in thought, while she cradles the sheep. But anyone who has had a pet or loves animals knows that the female instinct is to be nurturing and if a female cradles anything in her arms, she is usually looking at it. Since the sheep looks in the opposite direction, there is an existing tension, which allures nicely to the meaning behind this painting. All I will give away for now is that it has something to do with Christianity. Can you guess what the message might be?

Technically speaking, the painting on my easel is starting to undergo more and more changes. In order to judge the correctness of values it is important to cover the canvas with a lot of paint, otherwise the un-tinted canvas shines through and messes around with the artist's perception of what the correct tint should be. Each new paint application also helps to refine the figure more and distinguishes the elements that need to support the story line.

This means that every additional feature placed within the painting has to sit nicely within the values assigned to each area. By this I mean that nothing in the middle or background is allowed to compete with the foreground compositions.  Bur more on that later ~

Day Three of getting figure placed on large canvas

This is my new painting on which I have been working for three days now.

It's a big canvas, I think 22 x 28 inches (life size). I forgot how much paint it takes just to cover the support! For now, the main concern is to get things somewhat in the right spot, develop the values and cover everything with paint. I am going back to my grizaille approach (grey value underpainting) which takes much longer, but is so worth the effort in the long run. In the background will be a meadow with sheep and a forest, but 1st I need to get my little girl developed fully and figure out if she is going to wear jeans or a skirt.

Megan

Many years ago I was commissioned to paint a 9x12 inch custom portrait of Megan. Among the many photos of Megan, was this one which I absolutely love, but lucky for me was not the one picked by her parents. I have always wanted to use that photo one day, because it has such a nice back lighting and such a nice mood about it.

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