The more I used this canvas the more I liked it. More about that later. The edges are thinner than most I’ve worked with. I believed that was the only con of it, but after having worked on it for more than a week now, even that doesn't feel like much of a con.
I decided on a bluish purple background for this portrait. I decided to mix ultramarine into my dioxazine purple and see how I liked that. I didn't mix any white into it, though, because I wanted it to be extra dark and, more importantly, I didn't want to dull the color.
I painted my background in two layers using a large filbert brush and blending out my strokes with a mop brush. As I was putting the final layers on my background, I really started to notice how pleasant the texture of this canvas is.
Fast forward, and now I’m building up depth in her eyes and mouth with shadows and highlights. Using a liner brush, I painted highlights on her eyelids, being careful to avoid the creases I’d painted. Where you place these shadows and highlights is just as important, if not more so, than how dark or light they are in terms of the structure of the face. Painting something a shade or two darker than it is in the reference photo won’t throw off the structure of your face as much as putting that same mark a centimeter or two of from where it should be.
I’ve been making a point to keep my hand moving continuously while making most of my strokes, rather than stopping and starting. This creates a much smoother appearance. Making those smooth lines is also very easy on this canvas.
I’m especially proud of the way her eyes have come out. I made her cheek rounder by painting another stroke on the outside. On the topic of her eyes, I ended up enlarging both of her pupils to open her eyes more. Pupil size can really effect the overall expression of the subject. Advertisers know this
Last night it was time to add the lightest shades to her hair. I knew I wanted a lot of contrast between these and the darkest shades, but I went a little overboard with how light I made it to begin with, so I needed to add more black to my mixture. As with every other part of the hair, I was careful to place these strands in the right places in relation to each other. That went a long way in giving the hair the texture I wanted it to have, and the volume.
I worked on painting her chest too, particular around her neck and shoulder, which I see both need to have brighter highlights than they have now.
Her chest is the main thing now keeping me from moving on to the color. I haven’t gotten it to the point where I feel that the definition in her shoulder and collarbone is defined to my satisfaction. I’ve been working on making the highlights brighter that need to be and I think now I need some highlights that are just a touch brighter over very small areas, such as above and below her collarbone. I’m going to keep layering.
I’ve filled in her teeth using my liner brush.
For the first layers of color on her face, I knew I wanted a pale muted pinky color. I tried mixing cadmium red deep, because it has more blue than cadmium red medium, which is more orange, with deep green permanent. This color came out too purple, though, so I mixed some yellow in to take care of that.
I thinned this mixture down with water applied it in two thin layers all over the subject’s face and neck.
I’ll add more layers to the skin later, but the next thing I did was paint the irises. I did this by mixing a touch of the deep green permanent into some gray that I made by mixing zinc white and ivory black. Even though the subject has green eyes, I didn’t want to use straight green. That would’ve looked cartoonish.
I mixed a darker version of the same color I used for the base color of her skin for the shadows under her cheekbones, the sides of her forehead and around her nose. Before I did that, though, I glazed some zinc white over the middle of her forehead, down the bridge of her nose, and on the apples of her cheeks. This small change gave her face a lot more definition.
While I was painting what I thought would be the darkest shadows on her face, still using my brownish pink mixture, I realized I would need to include some blue shadows. I mixed those from ultramarine blue and an orange made with magenta and glazed them over the shadows I’d just painted. I feel I should point out that I was able to blend out the edges of these shadows very easily on this canvas.
Painting pale gray on the outer corner of her right eye seemed to open it up more. I also painted a mars black line underneath and gave her some lashes. When I go to work on the piece again, I will glaze some bluish gray over the cornea of her right eye, too.
I felt that her lips needed to be lighter, so I started by glazing some zinc white over them. I tried twice, thinking it was too light both times. The white was completely covering my color and all my details, which was not what I wanted. I decided to just start by glazing a streak of white in the center. I’ll probably go back and glaze some pink over that to help it blend in more with the rest of her mouth.
Today’s painting session started with that glazing of pale pink over the white of the mouth I predicted. I decided I was going to add some small areas of titanium white with my liner brush for extra glossiness, but that would have to wait.
In the meantime, I directed my attention to her eyes and started by applying the streak of dark blue gray under her right eye that I’d known needed to be there since yesterday.
I added some pale yellow to her left shoulder and her chin to show them catching the light more.
When I started my latest painting session, I sat down with the intention of painting the shadow the rim on the outer corner of her right eye, then moving on to her mouth. While I was putting my paint onto the palette, though, I thought it would make more sense to start with the mouth, since I would need a lighter color for that, so that’s what I did. I glazed a pale pink over the white marks on I’d painted on her mouth, blending them in much more with the rest of it. This greatly improved the look of her lower lip in my eyes.
Then I mixed more red and more green into my color and did what needed to be done on her eye.
I’d known for a while that I’d need to paint some titanium white on her left shoulder, just a small spot, to show where the light was reflecting. I took care of that with a liner brush.
It was at this point that I started struggling to find things to do on the painting, but I saw that her eyes needed a dark gray rim, very thin, around the edge of each iris. I really struggled to get these lines thin enough. I mixed my gray from ivory black and zinc white, by the way, the transparent versions of black and white. Anyway, I put just a touch of paint on the tip of my liner brush and was careful to let just that touch my canvas. Even so, my lines were still too thick. I had to wash most of the outer edges of them with water. I noticed in my reference photo that there was a similar line going all the way across her lower lash line on her right eye. This also came out thicker than the reference photo, but this time I didn’t mind.
Today I glazed more of my flesh color over the spot on her chin, which I felt was standing out to much, drawing too much attention to that area.
I directed my attention, now, to her chest and saw that there was some pinkish color reflected around her collar bone. I also added wisps around her hair with my liner brush.
I had a very short painting session. I started by painting a bit of gray on her strap for a highlight. I’ll add more to that later, but I needed it to dry, so I moved on to another section of the piece. I noticed that the highlights on the right side of her hair needed to come down farther on her face, so, using my round brush and the gray that was still on my palette, I did just that.
My reference photo for this piece came from Lisa Clough of Lachri Fine Art.
I’m starting by painting the whole canvas blue for this painting. I haven’t figured the whole background out yet, but as of writing this, I’ve decided to paint some dirt along the bottom quarter of the canvas, leaving a couple wholes for the blue to show through.
Today I painted some leaves on the painting. I used my small round brush for most of the body of the leaves, switching to my liner brush for the tips in order to have more control over the shapes. I worked with my hand back on the brush handle, allowing it to move freely across the shapes of the leaves. This will be it for the background.
I’ve transferred my flamingo onto the canvas. I decided to keep things simple to start with when it came to the underpainting. I blocked in the entire body, including the neck, except for the bottom quarter of the stomach, with a very light, almost white, shade of gray, leaving openings for feathers. I blocked in that bottom quarter with a much darker gray. I used my small filbert brush for all of this. Using my small round and my liner brushes, I painted feather texture where I saw it in my reference photo.I used the tip of my liner brush and some dark gray and started to paint some dense feather texture on his head. After taking another look at my reference photo, I saw that there was some pretty apparent feather texture in the flamingo’s belly, so I mixed some more black into the gray I’d already mixed for that section, making it even darker and painted that texture with my small round brush. Except for the tiniest details, I held my brushes with my hand back on the handle and let it move across the canvas in one fluid motion as much as possible. I didn’t worry too much at this point whether the shades were right. I was just concerned with putting my strokes where they should go.
Today I continued with the feathers, starting by adding some highlighted ones to his belly.
I thought by now that it was time to whip his beak into shape. I started by drawing in the division of the beak with my charcoal pencil. Then, when the paint was dry, I took my liner brush and some light gray paint, and being careful to keep my hand steady, and going slowly, I made one fluid, continues motion down the dividing line. I used that same continuous motion, with my much darker gray, for the shade that was to be on the dividing line.
His belly needed more texture, so I mixed a shade that was in between the ones already on it, and looking at the shapes in my reference photo, I took my liner brush and did my best to copy these shapes on my canvas. I had to zone in on a particular square inch of the photo and give my full concentration to it before moving onto the next part.
Today I added still more texture to his belly. I find it a challenge at this stage to concentrate on all the details. My mind is lazy and I have to force it to concentrate sometimes. I also turned much of my attention to the eye and beak, working on creating texture in the latter with highlights. This is going to take a lot of work.
For my first layers of color, I mixed a bit of yellow into my red and white, because I could see some warmth in the flamingo’s feathers. Using my filbert brush, I glazed light layers of this color all over the flamingo. I kept my hand going in one direction and was careful not to go over the same place more than once while the paint was wet.
Today I glazed zinc white over the upper half of my flamingo to create more contrast between it and the bottom third. While that first layer was drying, I decided my flamingo’s beak needed some more contrast. I started by mixing some dark red into the white I already had on my palette and glazed this over the parts I’d already painted pink. I wanted them to have a rosier cast, though, than what they had. The blue part in the upper part of the beak also needed to be darker. I have a feeling I’m going to need a lot of layers in that beak to give it the sleekness I want it to have.
Now I directed my attention again to the flamingo’s body. I already had a grayish blue out on my palette, so I added some zinc white into that, thinned it some more with water, and used my filbert brush to glaze it over the flamingo’s stomach, which I knew needed some blue in it.
I painted some yellow on his eye and also glazed it along the edge of the pink part of his beak.
Today I found a way to tone down those feathers on the stomach that were too bright. I did this by painting green over one feather and then thinning that out with water and using it on as many of the others as I could until I couldn’t see the green any more. When I ran out of green paint, I repeated the process with another feather.
His beak needed some more color in it too. I glazed purple and blue over parts of it, being careful to blend out any harsh edges, as I wanted the colors to look hazy. I also used my liner brush and some titanium white to paint some lines and speckles. I’m especially proud of the white speckles I painted in the little bit of yellow I’d glazed on the edge of his beak.
Lastly, I glazed a few layers of zinc white over most of the top half of the flamingo’s body.
Last night, it was time to glaze some blush gray in the feathers that are showing in the upper half of the flamingo’s body. I directed my attention to the texture on his neck, which up until now, was pure gray. I didn’t think it was suitable to leave it like that, and I still had a ton of grayish blue out, so, I took my liner brush and…you can probably guess the rest.
I worked more on the beak. I used my liner brush and titanium white to paint some more speckles. I started to paint a shadow of pink down the edge of the bottom, which is too dark at this point.
Last night, I started by glazing zinc white over the pink strip along the bottom of the flamingo’s lower beak. I was delighted at how much of a difference just one layer made.
I’d known for a while that his eye needed some red around it and I decided now was the time. I also, saw however, that it had a thick band of pale pink above it, so I painted that with some paint that I already had on my palette. I glazed more yellow over the cornea to brighten it.
While working on the eye, I also noticed that there needed to be another pale pink ridge above it, as well as a shadow above that, the latter of which I painted with my liner brush and some zinc white mixed with red.
Today I applied titanium white to part of the outer edge of the rim I’d painted above his eye. I used my liner brush, but pressed harder on the canvas, so my line would be thicker.
I saw that the bottom ridge needed to be darker to contrast with the top. I decided I would take care of this by glazing a bluish gray over it. I mixed my color too dark to begin with, but solved this by mixing my concoction into some more zinc white. I painted this onto the lower ridge of the eye with my liner brush. My too-dark color didn’t go completely to waste, though, because I used it to paint the blue streak right above the upper eye ridge.
I saw that the blue strip above his eye needed some more blue in it, so I made a muted version by mixing ultramarine with an orange made from carmine and yellow. The blue strip isn’t exactly like it is in the reference photo, but I like it.
Today I added more pink to the feathers on his tail, because I thought they were looking a bit dull. I glazed zinc white over the upper half of his body again, and ivory black over his belly to increase the contrast between those two. I also mixed some ultramarine into my gray and glazed that over some of the upper feathers.
I thought the feathers toward his tail were looking too flat. I wanted them to look like they were sticking up a bit from the rest of his body. I tried painting some titanium white over the edges of them with my liner brush, first going with the form, then going across it, wiggling my wrist as I went. I also painted some more ivory black right along the outer edges, using that same wiggle motion. After looking at my white lines though, I thought they were too harsh. I wasn’t immediately sure what to do about them, though, so I took a break. It was while doing a crossword puzzle on my phone, that I got the idea to glaze some more blue gray over part of my white marks.
To finish it off, I painted some layers of black under these feathers for more contrast.
Painter of portraits and wildlife