What’s new on the Easel

A work in progress.  This is taken from a photo reference I took a few years ago.  With all my home classes, I always try to gear at least one class to taking photo references which can be used for a portrait.  It gives everyone a chance to use a camera to take the pictures, and learn how to set it all up.  Students end up taking pictures of students, sometimes I take pictures, and sometimes I even get photographed (ugh).  I was fortunate the local theater was agreeable for us to use their stage and lighting for this session.  We also had access to their wardrobe room.   I like the theatrical look and luminous lighting for this painting.  Here you can see the beginning stages – just trying to get the proportions and a bit of the modeling established.  I have no portrait commissions at this time so doing this as a work of interest, and to add a figurative painting to my available paintings.  I don’t usually title a painting until it’s done, but I think this will be “Priming with Hat”.

By the way, the photo reference for this painting is not a great photo.  The stage lighting was too harsh, and the camera missed many details.  Not usually recommended to paint from a photo like that, but I intend to do some experimenting with this one – so on we go.  I think this will work out ok.


click on photos for larger version



This is taken after about 2 hours more painting following the above photo.  I mostly worked on getting some of the facial features established, revised the garment and arms.  Pushed a bit more color in the hat and other areas.








Here again is 2 or 3 more hours of painting.  Again, I’m working from a photo reference that is not the best in terms of exposure.  The lights are somewhat bleached, and the darks way too dark.  I need to make the face more luminous than the photo, and the colors are much different.  In the photo most of the facial features are mostly hidden in too dark shadows so I’m going on gut to get the features to read well.

(Not usually recommended to paint from a photo that isn’t up to par, but I’m enjoying experimenting with the colors and other features.)





Again – after about 3 or 4 more hours painting.  Mostly spent time on the face – then moved into the garment and background.  Starting to take on more luminousity.  Even at this stage, I expect to completely cover all areas again – including the face.  Getting there……






I decided to work on the background to add interest and break-up some of the symmetry between the lit areas of the arms.  The background is an area I sometimes invent abstract shapes or tones to support a better composition.  The semi circular shape now showing was moved several times before settling where it is now.  I can see I need to add some more cools next session….






A bit more development in the background and on the subject








Needed some color so I worked it into the background, and yes- changed the garment color.  Not done yet, but getting a bit closer.








Getting closer to finish.  After this session beginning to feel like the portrait is taking on a presence.  I hope when a viewer looks at the face, they get the same feeling.













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