Contemporary Portrait—Teenage Boy

Again from a photo from Unsplash, and again really fun to paint! The steps of my process are outlined below.

Contemporary Portrait-Indian Girl

12 x 16 ins, oil on canvas panel

So much fun! This portrait is based on a photo from Unsplash, but adapted according to my memories of our 4 month stay in India in 2014. One overwhelming impression there was the riot of color—in clothing, outside temples, in decorations. It was a beautiful feast of color!

Here’s a gallery of some steps in the process:

Contemporary ‘selfie’ Portrait

Oil on canvas panel, 12 x 16 ins

This is from a selfie photo, but not of me! As I was looking through the photos on my ‘phone I discovered several ‘unauthorized’ selfies of my teenage daughter. I told her that her ‘punishment’ was that I’d paint from them! She was horrified at first, but now actually likes the painting!

I painted this after watching a video lesson series (Contemporary Oil Portraiture, by Torsten Wolber) on the European site Domestika. His instruction is in German, but there are subtitles available in many languages. He’s a really fun teacher and opened my eyes to some new methods which I am loving trying out.

Eden

Oil on canvas panel, 18 x 24

I painted this picture of my youngest granddaughter from a photo taken and sent by my daughter-in-law. Besides loving the subject, I loved the light on her face. The photo was actually taken in their bathroom without the toys. I adjusted the background and requested a photo of the toys to add to the foreground.

This painting is currently on display at the Link Art Gallery in Paris, IL. I was delighted to find that my painting was chosen as the one used for the promotional cards for the Show. It will be up until July 15, 2022, along with other works by members of the River City Art Association, including two more of mine.

BIG READ ‘Beloved’ Library Exhibit

‘Future Promise’, Oil and glitter glue on canvas panel, 12 x 16 ins

As part of the annual Library Big Read program (by NEA and Arts Midwest) the River City Art Association provided a visual display of works related to the theme of the book. They are on display at the Vigo County Library.

I read the book in January, and chose to represent the passage where Denver describes her birth story to Beloved. There are several aspects I find beautiful about this story, one being that a white woman helped the escaping slave, Sethe, give birth to Denver (on a boat in the middle of the Ohio River), and it was ‘done appropriately and well’. Another inspiring aspect is the description of the blue and silver fern spores in the river, each one containing information for promise of the future.

The display will be up until Friday, April 1, 2022.

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

Applying Lessons to Portraits I

I decided to apply the lessons I’d learned from the live portrait group to some work at home.

Sadly, I did not have a live model anymore (working on ideas to find some!), but I revisited the time when I did have live models sit for me, during my birthday week of 2019 (one of my birthday wishes).

I started the 2022 session with a charcoal drawing from the photo above, 6 x 8 ins.
Then I painted two studies using the Zorn palette, plus Transparent Red Oxide. 6×8 ins each, oil on canvas
I used all that information and practice to paint this final portrait.
9 x 12 ins, oil on canvas board.
I was pleased to see some progress over the last two years!

Live Portrait group in PA, II

Here are the results of the second 2 hour session I attended. The model this time was a local veteran. He was a very patient and cheerful sitter!
A photo of the model.

At the end of the session, the model inspected the various representations of himself, with generous comments to all!

The group plans to continue painting veterans every other week, and in Nov 2022 have a display of all the year’s portraits of veterans at the VA hospital. At that time each veteran may choose one portrait of themselves to keep. I thought that was a great plan!

Oil, 9 x 12

Several months later, I painted the same subject again (from my photo), on a larger canvas and with a more expressive background.

Live Portrait Group in PA, I

During our fall stay in PA, I went to a couple of two hour live portrait sessions at a local art center. On one occasion we painted a class member and on the other, a veteran. There were 6-8 artists present, using a variety of media.

On the first session I attended we painted a class member. I started in charcoal, and was pleased to find I could make a decent likeness in about half an hour.

Charcoal on toned gray paper, 5.5 x 8.5 in

Then I painted the sitter again using a very limited palette of oil paints. This was yellow ochre, cadmium red, ivory black, titanium white and transparent red oxide (a modifed version of the palette used by Swedish master artist Anders Zorn).

Oil Paint on canvas, 6 x 7.75 in

I started with a very rough block-in, then painted all the shadows with transparent red oxide for the face and ivory black for the clothing. I found the limited number of colors easier to manage and mix.

I was very happy with the glow that the red oxide gave to the face. The other class members had useful comments to make about my efforts and said I’d captured his likeness exactly. It was all very enjoyable and satisfying.