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In progress!

Hi all, I am new to this community and wanted to get your honest critiques on how to improve this and other paintings I post. I think criticism is very important. I will post the original image and the latest progress shots.I am keeping in mind trying to mix  the correct colours ahead of time and colour checking them. so unfortunately the actual photo I have to work from isn't the best but the sitter wants this one.

So far.....



  • MelisaMelisa -
    edited August 28
    So like I said, unfortunately stuck with a poor original photo to work from. Im hoping to add my own touches to make it better rather than copying verbatum. The image that I shot of my work also doesn't translate so well even though I took many shots in different lighting conditions- this one was the best. sorry. The painting is slightly peachy-er-
  • MelisaMelisa -
    edited August 28
    By the way allow me to introduce myself. I am a Canadian living in Italy. Living here affords me different kinds of scenes that I wouldn't normally see in North America. Here are some other paintings of mine.
    Olive trees for example are found in the south of Italy. Unfortunately the colors of the photo I took do not translate so well on my screen so I don't know how you will see it on yours. I think this is so frustrating when posting an image. I suppose I need to color calibrate my monitor...

    here are some prickly pears and some chicken feed. pretty indigenous to southern Italy.

  • Please be brutally honest with the portrait as it is a gift and I want to please the receiver.
  • I think the olives and the prickly pears are amazing. Composition, drawing, colours and values are great. 
    As you say, with the portrait a poor reference photo makes things difficult. But I think you've done a good job so far and I look forward to seeing it when you're a bit further along. 

    Welcome to the forum.  :)
  • dencaldencal -
    edited August 28

    Welcome to you.

    A great portrait, showing good composition and a wonderful likeness.

    As flash photos go this is one of the better ones, but still a poor influence on the portrait.


    * eye brows too dark and too defined, could be softened.
    * eyes need more green in the iris edged to the off white sclera.
    * eye lashes could be softer.
    * reduce eye highlights and move to the side. The flash creates a ‘deer in the headlights’ look.
    * her right eye is too close to her nose.
    * skin tones could be warmer, with more blending, less stark whiteness. 
    * mute the electric blue background, it’s bleeding the life out of the face.
    * soften the outline of the lips.
    * hair, try to see more structure and lights.


  • I'm sure your portrait is gonna be great. I really liked the eyes. Beautiful  <3. And the olive trees painting is amazing. You have a great technique. 
  • Thanks a lot for your comments. Denis, thanks. I will go through your list and take advantage of your keen observations. ;)
  • First thing I'd do is throw away your source photos.  They were taken with flash, which flattens the form.  Take better photos, preferably with single source lighting -- NOT FLASH.  Light source should be about 45 degrees to the upper right or left to make interesting shadow shapes.  Flash photos are nothing but trouble.  I know.  I've been painting free for parents portraits of their children killed in the 911 wars.  So many of the photos the family provides are flash photos.  They awful, but I do my best because they are not able to get more photos of their son or daughter.  I've been doing this for about 15 years, and so far, I've painted 300+ portraits for families, so I've had a little experience.
  • I had a play with the source image to improve it. This might help:

  • Gee thanks Richard, it does feel better now. Gosh  wish I had Photoshop like before, but when I lost my Mac I lost the program with it years ago. I use Gravit but it just doesn't do all the photo adjustment things Photoshop does. I will give it another go using your photo.Now I can at least see the highlights in the hair. They aren't as blue as I thought.
  • Broker 12, I totally agree unfortunately I didn't have the option of shooting the sitter.The woman is actually much more beautiful in person. She reminds me of a Jame Tissot portrait or even a figure from a Waterhouse painting. The funny thing is, I have been wanting to paint her for years but never really go the right poto so now that she actually had the courage to give me one herself, (she is super practical and has shied away from photos and drawing in the past)  I decided not to push it and take the photo she gave me. I have to make it work.
  • It looks like you've captured her likeness @Melisa.  Dencal gave really good advice and have enjoyed seeing this thread, as it has helped me understand something new.  Your other paintings are beautiful.  Can't wait to see how our portrait develops.
  • <gee thanks. I have taken a pause to address the important matter of creating my Slow Dry Medium. I have to make it myself because I live in Italy where shipping is not permissable of Marks Geneva brand. I have had some difficulties in my mixture and I hope to resolve it. I have used all the ingredients in correct parts except for Venetian turp and clove oil.which I used almost to correct parts. I am thinking that perhaps this lack of these two has not allowed the medium to gain it's real slow drying properties. Do you think so? The porrait of the woman would be much better if I could work wet into wet I think. 
  • The clove oil will keep your paint from drying to fast all by itself.  Here in the states you can purchase it at health food stores and order on line.
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