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Creating A Gallery Portrait Oil Painting “Flowers For Mommy”

This is a figurative painting that I am creating for a gallery or collector. It is similar to the “Lady Bug” figurative oil painting  that I am working on, so I am using the same intro that I wrote in the other blog.

This is a 30×30″ oil on canvas in progress, and we are looking for name for it at this time.

If interested in my detailed procedure, see the Commission Portrait Painting blog. In this blog I would prefer to just add some abbreviated notes.

I designed a painting composition based on a recent photo shoot with my favorite model at the Landon Azalea garden in Bethesda, MD.  After I stretched my 30×30″ white linen canvas, I applied a very thin alziarin/black and white under painting to the canvas and let it dry for two days. I don’t usually sketch a line drawing, instead I painted the figure directly on canvas as shown by the below two photos. I can’t remember if the below two photos were taken after my first complete session or after my second. In any case, it is a very early stage, and in the close up below you can see how thin the paint is, and you can see that it is just a rough paint sketch. Notice how the dark paint goes flat in early stages when I am painting thin with paint thinner.  The dark earth tones particularly go flat when dry. This makes it nearly impossible to see the values accurately, so I must lightly oil it once again before working.

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Adding layers on figure, foliage and background.

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Another layer on figure ………

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Another layer on the background…

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Further refining face and background.

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Notice I cooled the shadows in the sweater, and warmed the background foliage a bit.

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Also notice the depth in the foliage. Starting dark, and building lighter, I am careful that when I have to go back into a shadow area,  that I usually will need to repaint the lighter foreground element edge again to keep the illusion of depth.

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When attempting to paint a masterpiece, as I do every time, no matter how well I painted, I always feel like I have farther to go. This can lead to frustration which is not productive or healthy. When this happens, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. I simply look at the close-up pic of my first layer of paint (at the top of this blog), and compare that picture to this close-up photo of where the painting is now, I can then feel grateful for how far it has come!

Notice that the background has been completely revised from above. The colors are a little more subdued and the values darker.

Notice her arm. I added another layer on it. It graduates from very light to very dark. Notice the color changes from top to bottom: white, yellow,pink,green,brown,black. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the colors but you get the idea. It isnt painted with only varying shades of brown. The color temperature change along with the value change gives the arm the illusion of a 3D object on canvas. I am very pleased with it. I also spent alot of time on the bottom hand  too. It was a very difficult hand to paint.

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As I progress along in the painting, to my dismay, sometimes I go backward rather than forward.  Hopefully it’s two steps forward to every one step backwards. I notice that the hair above is very choppy now and needs to be refined. I  decide to warm the hair below, and intentionally leave a little green in the hair to compliment the red. Notice the background has been completely revised from above.

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“Flowers For Mommy” completed.

Everything has been fine tuned now. The background, hair, face, arm, ribbon, hand etc…. In the final stage, I squint down, and look at the painting in different lighting. I look at it in the mirror. I take photos of the painting and look at the photos. I am looking for anything that bothers me or that looks like it needs adjustment. I am checking edges, values, color temperatures. I am removing any brush hairs if stuck in the paint. Wow that was a lot of work. I lost track of my time but I think I worked 3 months on this painting. The background was very time consuming as well.

It’s beautiful, it’s time to sign it, and move on!

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