Applying Lessons to Portraits II

One of my major painting goals for 2022 is to paint from life as much as possible.

After my enjoyable sessions at the live portrait group in Pennsylvania, where I simplified the process by using only the Zorn palette (yellow ochre, cadmium red, ivory black and titanium white) plus transparent red oxide, I decided to concentrate on using the Zorn palette for more portrait practice this year.

I returned to photos that I took in Nov 2019, when I asked family members to sit for me for an hour at a time during the week of my birthday and I painted 11 x 14 portrait sketches using water-mixable oils:

Now, in 2022, I’ve repainted from these photographs using a 3-step process:

  1. Charcoal drawing
  2. Oil color study
  3. Finished oil portrait

1. Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal study from photo above, 6 x 8 ins

2. Oil Color Study

Oil Study painted from photo above, 6 x 8 ins

3. Finished Portrait

Portrait, 9 x 12 ins, oil on canvas board

Plein Air today

8 x 8 ins, Oil on Linen Panel

I painted this from my front porch this afternoon, an exhilarating experience. It was a crisp, clear, windy December day. My focus was the large maple tree in the middle of the front lawn, and the way the nearly-setting sun was lighting it, although by the time I finished (an hour later) the light had pretty much gone from the tree.

I took a lot of artistic license with the view and completely removed the houses across the street (their complexity and presence did not add to my ideas about the tree), so this is not actually the view from our porch, but my ideas about the tree and the light this afternoon. I loved doing it.

One hour Portraits from Photos

Recently I tried two more one hour portraits, but this time from photos I’d taken in the past year. They were useful studies, again with good learning experiences involved. The process forces quick decisions, and sometimes they are wrong! In the first picture, the angle of the face should be tipped forward more. (I used this study as a practice for a more finished painting).

In the second painting, the general positioning is good, but the eyes are too low, even though I was comparing distances with the end of my paintbrush. However, she has the right look of intensity and concentration. I’d like to do this one again as a more finished painting.

They are both oil , 11 x 14, painted on canvas board (toned chromium oxide green).