Forest Girl #2-C, Oil Painting on Mylar, 12x8"

Forest Girl #2-C, Oil Painting on Mylar, 12×8″

My first attempt at painting Sylvia, a lovely young Bulgarian architecture student, ended in an abandoned failure, displayed at the bottom of this post in 6 steps. I altered my course for the second attempt (above), starting with a better drawing, and was able to complete the study more successfully. I tried to practice for alla prima painting, not going for a “finished” portrait, even though I painted from her reference photo on Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, instead of from life.

What made the difference between failure and success was that I took the time to make a more accurate drawing first (above). I drew on one side of a sheet of Dura-Lar Matte Film (after first reversing the reference photo in Photoshop) and painted on the other side. Then I turned the sheet over, toned it with a transparent umber stain, and reversed the photo back to normal. That way I had the lines of the drawing to refer to, along with the photo without obliterating the drawing. It’s still visible on the back of the painting and could be traced over onto another sheet of Dura-Lar if I wanted to paint her again from the same drawing.

Below is the failed first attempt, where impatience and hubris led to a quick, sloppy drawing (with the evil thought, “I can always correct the drawing when I paint,” which I need to ignore in the future!). The captions describe what went wrong at each step:

Art supplies, Drawing, Faces, Oil Painting, Painting, People, Portrait, Portrait Party
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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. She is beautiful, Jana!! Well done! And the way you painted her hair is great instruction for me. Thank you!!! God bless, C-Marie


    • Thanks you!… but I’m not so sure you should try to take instruction from how I painted her hair. I was just kind of scribbling it in quickly when I should have been cleaning up and going home for dinner!


  2. Yes, The right lines make all the difference don’t they? Good job!

    From Nicole (Nickie) Gently Emerging Artist:


  3. Love your process Jana. Loved the feeling and expression on the second painting. Just wonderful. Neat to follow how you get there.
    – Chris


  4. […] Source: Portrait Process: Start to Fail and Start Again […]


  5. I thought you did a great job. Love her eyes and the colours you have used.Makes you wonder what she is looking at or thinking about.


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