This commissioned portrait of a darling little girl was really fun to paint but had some challenges, like trying to invent the pajamas hidden by the highchair straps. It took several drawings (including one of a baby skull I found on Google) before I was ready to move ahead with the painting as you can see in the process steps below.
Emi’s face was actually easier to paint than the pajamas, and I was tempted to keep working on them, probably forever, but the friend who commissioned the painting was happy with it as is, so I am too.
Below is some of the work in progress steps. Please note that the lighting changed the colors in some of the photos.
Although I’m happy with this pre-quarantine composition and painting, I regret not checking the drawing before beginning to paint. I sensed something wasn’t right and sure enough, when I did the digital tracing (below) I found my mistake, but it was too late. I’d either need to start over or let it go.
When drawing/painting people I ask myself, “Does it at least look human, if not that specific human?” Hmmmm. Well, I guess I can celebrate the parts that worked and let go of mistakes and remember to check my drawing next time! Also I might be coming to believe that sometimes the anatomy isn’t as important as the feeling I’m trying to convey, and that caricature or distortion might be ok (though it’s probably better when it’s intended).
I did the initial drawing on Arches Oil Paper with a Prismacolor Col-Erase pencil. Then I sealed the drawing and the paper with Golden GAC 100, a transparent acrylic sealant that gives the paper a slick, non-absorbent finish. I dislike using Arches Oil Paper as is, it’s way too absorbent. So even though it’s safe for oil painting on directly, I can’t really use it without sealing it first. Some people first cover it with Gamsol but that would be way too much solvent exposure for me.
This was one of those paintings that just flowed and was fun from beginning to end. I started with a drawing in pencil (below) on Arches Oil paper and then applied a layer of Golden GAC 100 acrylic sealant over the sketch to make the surface less absorbent and more slippery.
My goal for this painting was to stop as soon as the painting said what I wanted to say and before things got over-worked, overly perfected and I’m pleased to say that’s exactly what I did. Sure, there are many things that could be better but I like it just the way it is.
The images below show the steps in the process, from the graphite drawing, to an umber underpainting, to the block-in and final layer of paint.
I’ve had so much fun painting and sketching the lovely Dayris from Sktchy in oil (above), and before that, in pencil and then doing a digital sketch in Procreate (below). Also below you’ll find a slide show of the work in progress. Doing the two initial drawings really helped me quickly get a pretty accurate drawing for the oil painting. You can see her reference photo on Sktchy here.
Below are the steps in the process of making the portrait.