Jeana -- straight after Lucia 2

Well, I'm so excited about my progress with Lucia 2 that I'm planning ahead to Jeana (or should I say Jeana 1) =)

I've scanned a 35 year old negative and done some work in Photoshop.
It is still quite fuzzy though.
Also, I don't like the background.
Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do with the focus and the background? (I don't think anything can be done in Photoshop) 

It will be 30cm by 60cm -- I hope it doesn't end up looking too dark.


  • What about this? I tried to boost some of the details in the darks and remove the noise:

  • @Richard_P   Thank you for trying to help -  it always amazes me that someone would actually go to the trouble of altering an image in Photoshop for someone else's benefit, so thanks.  However, I'm not sure this is going to solve my problems because I don't like the existing background in the photo and want to replace it with something better. I just don't know what yet.  Also, the focus is still a bit of an issue.
  • No problem. I was trying to bring out the values in her sleeve more :)
  • I think the focus is fine for a portrait. Any sharper would deepen laugh-lines and crows' feet. All the features; all the shapes/forms, shadows, values and colors are there. It was a flash photo so the highlights are brighter than necessary but you can make them more subtle.
  • @BOB73  Thank you Bob, that's an interesting opinion and probably spot-on. In relation to the highlights, it will be going against my nature to make them more subtle, but I'll try.  :) The background is still a bit of a worry.  I'm trying so hard to follow as many of Mark's Rules as I can and PAINT WHAT YOU SEE is one of the main ones. I was hoping I could create a new background in Photoshop but evidently the experts say that because there is no clear border around her hair, I can't do it, except to just create a mask and make the background solid black - but I think that a black background in a largish portrait would be a bit much.
  • I quite like the way the mid to top of her head disappears into the background -- I vote for black at the top and lighter as you paint further down.  I think the background can be whatever you want it to be.  Artistic license!
  • Perhaps pull in some of the hues from her hair and dress with dark values into an abstract near black background?
  • Not that anyone is noticing it but that circle on the sleeve is drawing my eye right there in and around the circle and I don't see anything else....  That is more distracting to me than the background.  Good luck!
  • @Bancroft414 and @Richard_P have good ideas. the background is an area where you can afford to experiment once your drawing is complete. You can make it gradient with other hues from the picture, even the flesh tones or neutral darks. There are not enough deep shadows in her face to go with a black background in my opinion, which may be equal in value to my 2 cents worth.
  • If you're experimenting with the background, I suggest a wash, simply creating ambiance using a mix of veridian and alizarin crimson, you can get quite near black with it as well. This will do wonders for this portrait.
  • @Richard_P @Julian @BOB73 @Bob and @Forgiveness - Julianna - I happen to love that circle thing on her sleeve and it didn't occur to me it might be a problem until you pointed it out :)  Now I too can see nothing but the circle on her sleeve. :/   Yes Bob, you have made a good point about the lack of deep shadows in her face to go with a black background - I didn't like the idea either - so I guess I will just paint her first and somehow paint in a dark background without making it solid black. Maybe I'll use the veridian and alizarin crimson if I feel brave enough. Or just paint something ad hoc. I'm just disappointed I can't adhere to Mark's Paint What You See Rule.   I might also keep the black at the top and lighter on the way down too. Thank you all for your suggestions anyway. It makes me feel much more confident.
  • Mark has also said that the beauty of painting a scene is that you can leave out things that detract from the composition and add things that aren't there. This is where we all get to exercise our franchise of artistic license.
  • @BOB73   In relation to what we choose to add or detract from a composition, I can see that other artists probably won't agree with my choice to include the circle in the painting (which is fine of course). The reason is that the circle makes the portrait quite unique in my eyes. When I cast my mind back to finding a suitable photograph of Jeana, this is the one I remembered and went hunting for, and it's partly because of that circle - as well as the relaxed pose and expression. I also liked the fact that I took the photograph. 

    The things that detract from the composition in my view are the people in the background, and yes, I will happily leave them out.    What I might try to do when painting the background is to keep the colors pretty much how they are, and just blur the details. That way I can't confuse or contaminate reflections of light etc on Jeana herself.
  • That's a good idea too. Nothing wrong with keeping a distracting element (circle) if it adds to the enjoyment. People may remember that style or that particular item so it adds to the story. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion too.
  • @dencal   I don't suppose you will remember, but when I painted Lucia 1's skin, matching color nearly drove me mad (this was months ago)  In the end I discovered I had to keep blue to an absolute minimum. Then yesterday when I was painting I accidentally painted with a blue-ish skin color and it worked fine. I then realised that if I check the color against the photographic image it is completely different to how it looks on the canvas. I'm going to include examples from this morning. I often feel I'm going mad when I come up  against one of these counter-intuitive issues.  Can anyone help me understand why this is so, and what I can do about it?

  • Dianna

    Mark beautifully demonstrates how to achieve any colour here;

    If if you are matching to a laminated photo then this process will get you there.

    Get rid of any of your paint tube colours that are made with multiple pigments or contain “hue” in the name. Multi pigment combos will throw off the expected outcomes when mixing value and colour.

  • Thank you I will watch it again.
  • Dianna, do you have the laminate and the canvas vertical where they are being illuminated by the lighting?
  • It could be a colour perception issue. The paint you have put on the laminate is surrounded by a light valued hue which influences the colour we see. Where as the paint you have put on the dark part of the painting is going to look different due to the darker value around it.

  • Yes, well put - I couldn't think how to describe it.  I will have to find a way to sort it out somehow.
  • In my experience the colour never looks “right” until the whole canvas is covered- neighbouring colours have a big influence on how a colour is percieved.
  • @Boudicca Yes, that's so true. It's something I still grapple with. I know Mark says to wait until the painting is finished before making any adjustments.

    I am not good at mixing color. I always seem to get it wrong. When I mix shadow colors they are always far too dark and look ridiculous and I have to tone them down on the canvas with a lighter color. It's so frustrating. I kind of second-guess my way to something close to the right color. (And yes, I always use the Flow method)

    I will try to be mindful when I re-mix the colors again today. 

    Also I have ordered some more prints. I will try to put a print right on the palette the way Mark did in his color mixing video and see what I can come up with. I just have to work it out somehow.

    Also, I find the pink color very chalky and I suppose that's because of the Titanium White. I don't want to move away from Mark's limited palette and the Geneva paints - the only thing I can do to improve the chalkiness is to make sure I pay attention to the lights and darks.

    Thanks for your input.

  • Thank you all for your advice.  I have now adjusted my attitude.  I have re-mixed all the colors and I'm much happier this time.  I'm going to do what Mark says (and Shonna) and paint them as such and then do an adjustment at the end of the painting if I still think it's needed

    I am so grateful to have the Forum to help me.  In the past when these problems would get too much for me I would end up putting the brush down and not picking it up again for YEARS.  It is heartening to have other like-minded people around me to remind me of the principles laid down by Mark so that I can get back on-track again.  So thank you all.

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