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‘Spring In Fall’ Painting Instruction by master portrait painter

By November 2, 2009June 1st, 2016Portrait Painting Instruction, Portraits

On The Easel – Ballerina In The Park

If you look at the last post you will see the bottom of the dress being formed.  I layed in the initial shapes and colors of where the skirt falls over the ledge and let it dry. In the image below you can see the next layer on the skirt. I think that was the main work that I did between these painting sessions.  If you look at the image on the bottom of this page you can see the next stage developements in the foreground and background.



I began this session contemplating the background. I envision light streaming in from high and far away right through the middle of the painting to the foreground,  and I envision it to appear soft and wistful rather than a sharply contrasted, detailed rendering. I feel that this softly lit background will make a nice contrast to the  dark foreground. I envision the foreground to have strong vertical and horizontal lines running along the wall and slate walkway, with plenty of textured palette knife work in the wall with lots of thick paint and bold color. I love how this composition is developing.

After painting some soft light in the background,  I began laying warm and cool greens and browns on the wall with the knife in the image below. The palette knife works brilliantly on stone work such as this.

Under the over hang on the walkway, I began laying in thick brush strokes of paint simulating leaves. I am not trying to do an accurate leaf still life but rather simulating leaves with thick bold strokes of beautiful warm and cool paint but being careful to keep the values accurate. I want to make sure that leaves in the shadow stay in shadow.

I see one leaf below that appears to bright and I may have to go back and lower the value. I loved laying in thick bold strokes of warm and cool greens and browns side by side. I was careful to apply strokes that had movement and an easy flowing feel to them. I took much artistic liberty to paint the background with my vision, as well as to paint the leaves in the foreground with my vision. I was not tied too much to reality in these areas of the painting.

You can not see the beautiful paint applications in the foregound that I have been discussing in the photos that I posted. Sorry about that. I am very excited and happy when I see the original painting, unfortunately the photos dont convey this.

I am trying to decide how much of the warm reds and yellows to leave in her hair. I like the warm red statement on the crown of her head. It certainly adds interest to the focal area because red is a complimentary color to the background surrounding greens, so it is a real eye grabber.

In case you were wondering, her face is the  focal point of this painting. The line leading from her foot up to her knee points directly to her left eye. This is a beautiful diagonal line directing the eye to the focal point of the painting. I keep being reminded of how well this composition works which is very important. A great composition like this one keeps me motivated to continue taking it to the next level. If the composition was not working well I would stop immediately, cut my losses,  and move on to something else, but I’m encouraged. Let’s take her to the next level!