Every now and then I receive a request to work on an old photo. You know one of those where the colors are all off and details are not easily visible. One of clients asked me if I could paint a 14x18" oil portrait of a photo of his wife when she was a child. He send me a photo that looked very chromatic.The arms were cropped off and the hair looked rather orangish.
I started the painting with the two-toned underpainting. When color is removed I get a better sense of how to put down new paint colors that look more natural. The grey underpainting acts as a roadmap for color and as long as I don't veer off too much of the value scale, the painting should come together fairly fast.
I like to call the next stage the ugly duckling stage. The stage when the first layer of color is applied, yet the grey still shows through. This stage however is very important because it sets the tone for what is to come. On the homepage of the website a video shows the step by step process and I always invite my clients to keep watching as soon as I post new images. This way minor color changes can be requested, before too much paint is put down.
As the painting slowly comes together, I get more and more excited because the last stage is my favorite part. This is when I get to really concentrate on bringing out the details and make the painting take on a life like appearance. Up until now everything looked flat, but that changes as soon as I start to really play with shifts in color. Every layer serves a purpose and the last layers are like the cherry on the top. But enough of explaining - you can watch the rest ...