County Fair Taco Seller, ink, acrylic, watercolor, 7x5"

County Fair Taco Seller, ink, acrylic, watercolor, 7x5"

I finally started working on a series of 16×20″ oil portraits, mostly of people who work in my neighborhood shops. It took a long time to figure out how I wanted to approach the paintings and in the meantime I made several preliminary sketches in my journal.

This blue series began as a way to cover a really ugly page in my journal. To cover the mess, I mixed some Golden Absorbent Ground (gesso-like, but designed to prepare surfaces for watercolor painting) and some ultramarine blue watercolor. I didn’t mix it very well, as you can see from the streaks, but I actually like it this way. Drawing with a pen worked well on it too. When taco girl (above) dried, I painted in her very red hair.

Kim the Barista, ink & acrylic & watercolor

Kim the Barista, ink & acrylic & watercolor

I covered two more pages in my journal with the remaining blue Absorbent Ground. Something went a little wrong with my drawing of Kim’s eyes (above) which don’t quite match in size or location. Oops. I sketched Kim before (see pics here) when I was taken by the scene’s resemblance to Manet’s “Bar at Folies Bergère.”

Elliot, Meat Manager, ink and acrylic

Elliot, Meat Manager, ink and acrylic

I felt a little embarrassed to ask Elliot to let me take a photo of him behind the meat counter but I had to. There is something old-fashioned about him that always makes me picture him in a Norman Rockwell painting. I had a little problem with one of his eyes too, but his oil painting is coming along nicely.

Taco Girl and Kitchen on Fire Spread in Journal

Taco Girl and Kitchen on Fire Spread in Journal

This is the spread in my journal where this series started. The Taco Girl oil portrait is half done. It will be a while before I finish and post the oil paintings but I am enjoying working on several at once, so that while a layer of one dries another is ready to work on.

And I’m so happy to have figured out how I want to paint them: I’m painting how I paint! More about that in another post.

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Category:
Drawing, Faces, People, People at Work, Portrait, Series, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing the end results…and your posts are great.

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  2. Hola from Barcelona. I too have been sketching etc. Love your new blue work!! So much to see here. You’d be sketching your butt off. Xxxooom

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  3. Oh Jana! “Painting how I paint???” I think we might be having the same problem! Tell me what the solution is please. (And hurry!)

    I do love these sketches in blue. I remember the barista sketch and the meat man does look a little Norman Rockwell-ish. I enjoyed your Amtrak conductor a lot so am looking forward to the finished product with these people. Great project and good luck-it will be wonderful:)

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  4. Very original concept….I presume you needed to ask EACH person to pose for a picture, not just the meat guy. I really like the blue as a background, and the good contrast with the portraits themselves.

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  5. Jana, what a great project and approach! By the way, I love your painting of the knives.

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    • Leila, Thank you so much. I just visited your website and I LOVE YOUR WORK! Especially the cartoon about Emily who’s not online and gets things done! You are incredible and I’m honored by your visit and kind comments. Jana

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  6. These are great!!!

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  7. Great Project Jana., Your work/play & style is beautiful. I have been practising portraits/faces and always come undone when I get to the nose and lips!!!!

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    • Reading your comment reminded me about what a trap that it is–to think of them as noses and lips instead of trying to paint the color and value shapes you see. Once I name it I’m lost. Working on these portraits I find that again and again and have to keep reminding myself “it’s not a nostril, it’s a little dark warm colored shape that is next to that light cool-colored shape. And then step back and see if those patches of color turned into anything. Fortunately with oils you get more than once chance and can keep refining (or messing it up). Jana

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  8. Thanks for the tip Jana, I will definately remember those warm and cool coloured shapes. And we will see what happens, I have a feeling it will be an improvement. 🙂

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