Part 3 Head and shoulder portrait


This is a2 size portrait, painted in oils. My Daughter is sitting up in bed reflecting on life or just sighing about having to sit while I paint her. She wears a black hood with large draw string rope hanging down and a stripped vest top. I wanted the strips to show her bunched up pose in the mid drift area and this helps to represent the posture she is positioned into. The Background is of a painted movie poster and I think the colours blend with the pillows and the bed head. The walls are cream<white so rather lifeless but didn’t want this to draw the attention away from the thoughtful character portrayed . The colour balance has been toned down with mid grey which is repeated in the mid drift area of her body so that background and body of portrait are the same tone. The telephone book paper has been used in the mid drift vest to aid with gauging the mid tone and the concept of identifying ones self with either forenames or surnames which is what the telephone book publishes ; names and numbers to contact those people.

This concept come from a walk along the sea way going towards Hern Bay, where people have pushed shells into the very soft clay Clift side and have spelled out names such as ‘Kate’ . I found this interesting as I wondered why they decided to use the shells to spell out names and not other words. The shell decoration was not as quick as to write with the found Pumas which is often used around the coast.

I think the success is the head tilt position because the colour under the neck is tonally variant from the tone on the forehead. The light violet under the neck and the red-violet found as the shadows from the hair help to represent the variations of skin tone. The hands were very blue from the reflection of the black hoody top and black pyjama bottoms. I worry when painting skin that it starts to look dead when adding to many dark tones. When I look to Lucian Freud and his nudes such as Night Portrait (1978) I notice all the dominating warm tones such as yellow, Browns, terracotta and then the violet and blues. When I first tried this , I created bruises. I realised you needed a dark back ground to give colour variation to the overall composition and then the flesh tones don’t look as dark if the back ground is dark. I keep hearing the ringing words from my last tutors report which was ‘work on your mid tones’ so with referring back to Lucian Freud, you can only have a mid tone if you understand the darkest tones and the lightest tones, everything else is mid tone. 

I think this looks like my daughter and have taken a photo of her position to help check her sitting location and took some close up photos of her hands to colour check along the way. I finally dried brush over the background and into her hoody and hands. This process of dry paint brushing is useful with blurring and softening the colour tones and edges and pushing the background back into location and intensifying the foreground or the areas of focus such as the portrait. This dry brush work can in effect delete the details so may have to wait for the paint to dry so to clarify anything, but at the moment I am happy to walk away.

My Daughter thinks the painting shows her hands are more like sausages.

I have redone the hands several times , changed the position of the hands and taken more photos but they still need work. I have decided to let the paint dry and not look at it for a while as fresh eyes upon this at a later point may allow me to see a better solution other than scraping the paint away and starting again on the hands.

1 thought on “Part 3 Head and shoulder portrait

  1. Pingback: Submission with Links to Blog. | MelindaW POP (pratice of painting)

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