Tuesday, July 6, 2010

WAAAAY Outta My Comfort Zone!

Hi all.  I have been painting but just not posting all that regularly and this time, I think I've really over-reached myself!

This is a painting that I've started of my vet's son holding a chicken that's almost as big as he is- isn't he just the most precious thing you've ever seen?  The child has evidently inheirited his father's love of animals and when I saw the photo, I just had to try to paint it (& "try" is the operative word!).  I was given permission but now I wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew! 

You all have never seen a portrait of a human from me for a reason - I totally suck at them!  But, I'd really like to finish this one and do well with it.  So may I please get some advice from those of you who do such wonderful portrait work?

You can tell that this isn't finished but I've run into some problems.  The main thing is the shadow work - there are several very deep shadows on this fair-haired child but when I add them, he just looks dirty.  I've tried browns, red-browns, violets (purple ranges) and some green underpainting.  So, my main question is - how do I get those luscious deep shadows without the painting looking dirty or just downright weird?

Secondly, how do I keep the portrait fresh looking - the face especially looks as if it has makeup on it?  I'm seriously debating washing it all off and starting again but I know if I do, I won't ever go back to it.  BTW - this is pastel on Ampersand PastelBord.

I hope someone will answer but I won't be able to get back to this for a at least a week as I have a lot of things on the calendar for the foreseeable future.  I doubt that I'll even be able to post any more here for a time either.

Sooooo, think about it and please offer any suggestions you think might help - maybe with your suggestions and some fresh eyes, I can finally say I've painted a portrait - a human portrait!


geraldine.boley@googlemail.com said...

Hi Jan
sorry no help I am afraid, I don't do pastel portraiture either, the way I work with animals, is dark to light putting shadows etc in first then lighter stuff on top, as I find it can look a little 'dirty' or muddy otherwise. Hopefully someone who knows more about it will comment;-)
Having said that I really like this and look forward to seeing it completed.

Teresa said...

Well, Jan, first off, give yourself a pat on the back! Portraits can be tough and I think you've done a great job. His eyes are very expressive.

Speaking from a colored pencil point of view, when I do shadows I often use something like Tuscan Red, Venetian Red or Cinnamon (all reds with a dusky tint.... just a a mere hint of brown). I stay away from actual browns because they do tend to make the skin look "dirty". What you can do to help get rid of the dirty shadow look is to warm it up with a light (light!!) layer of something like Mineral Orange or Goldenrod (cp colors... but you get the general idea). When you need a cool shadow color, I often use a warm violet. If I need more cool tones I do a very light layer of either a blue or a cool purple/violet.

Which direction is the light coming from? Left of him or straight on?

The rosy cheek color may benefit from being darkened some as it gets closer to his jawbone. Even though toddlers have chubby cheeks the top part of the cheek usually still catches the light more than the bottom part. The rosy color in the cheeks is seen more at the top of the cheek than the bottom.

BTW... if this makes you feel any better... you've chosen a difficult angle for your first portrait... same difficult angle I chose for my first portrait! LOL!

Hope this helps!

Jan said...

Thanks to both of you for the tips. I haven't gotten back to the painting yet as we just returned from Florida and I've had other things to take care of before I could do any serious painting. I think this will take some intense concentration to finish.

Anyway, I'll let you know when I get back to it and how I solve the mystery of the shading (if I can!) Thanks again.

Teresa said...

If you want to finish it do.. but don't feel pressured to. Every little bit you do gets you further along the way and even though a piece may not come out as you planned just doing it was still beneficial.

Jan said...

Sage advice, Teresa. I do want to finish it but there has just been a lot going on lately and I'd prefer to work on it when I have some uninterrupted time scheduled. I hope that just a few more hours work will see it completed!