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Mike Derby Portrait Blog



  • You are doing all three?? 
  • Yes.  Only time will tell which one is good enough for the challenge.
  • Yeah, geesh.  That would be something.  But it would be great.
  • The first one is very good subject. Be careful with those backgrounds. They are like casual photos but when you are painting they need some changes. Mark's horse video is a good example. 
  • edited January 2018
    Edited to remove photos I am not going to paint 
  • @MikeDerby, You weren't kidding when you decided to have a challege. You really love to draft don't you? Speaking of draft I have to go have some butter-milk and icecream in preparation for tomorrow. I hope to float a keg.
  • There are number of great artists who are both great draftsman and great craftsman in fine art painting all in one. These go well together, hand in hand. Keep up the great work.
  • Mix


    Back to the workflow.  Hopefully my results are better this time.  I have been practicing squinting.  I think I am getting the hang of it.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited July 2017
    @MikeDerby, this is looking great already.

    Could you tell us about the upper lip/chin patches you added early on?  It's not the highlight (tip of the nose), so I have no theory about it.

    I like it when the subject generously covers up those difficult-to-paint ears.
  • wow you're making great progress Mike. The drawing is very good.
  • edited July 2017
    Same leveling qualities work for me in same way with another brand name oil paint as I use Mark's alkyd stain. Maybe he doesn't sell it because it is very toxic, used outdoors is best and, best I know, it doesn't keep.
  • My word this is looking good. What great progress.

    For stain I just used my normal oil paint thinned down a bit with solvent, and with a bit of liquin added to speed drying (my guess is that is similar to the recommended alkyd paint, but I don't really know). I think you are right that the stain will reduce the probability of sinking in problems.
  • Looking fabulous, @MikeDerby! Skin tones beautiful and the eyes are awesome.
  • It's already looking fantastic :
  • Pretty darn good work for a guy who couldn't "draw a bath". This looks so natural. I think it will be your best (at least for a little while). Thanks for the detailed explanation of blending. I guess that is Mark's idea to keep blending to a minimum?
  • Interesting to hear about how you blend between values. I've done it this way too when I have a lot of steps. Lately though I've done less steps and more shapes of brush strokes rather than following the edges. I find it adds a little abstract quality and I enjoy doing it and the effect. 

  • That is a beautiful portrait.  I haven't even started on mine yet.  It will be another two weeks until I can.
  • Beautiful work! I'm learning so much from reading this thread!
  • If this request is not too late, while you are just finishing up, is there a chance you can soften the edges around her nose, right and left sides only? It seems like such a delicate area. You have captured her sweetness incredibly well. Both paintings side by side will be very beautiful!
  • Looks really good! Hard to tell looking on my phone, but should the edges of some of the darks be a little softer? 
  • Get a bigger phone @Richard_P ,LOL, he nailed the darks pretty darn well.
  • I am going to take a decent pic when I get the zipper in and then try some softening in photoshop, probably tomorrow.  I already softened the neck in shadow.  I think the cheek could be toned down and the blouse under the chin is very sharp.  I like the nose Foregiveness but will experiment.
    I wrote a thread recently about edges.  Several of you responded and Martin wrote a very eloquent explanation of academic edges, which I fully subscribe to.  But I think I am doing that already.  It is true that I lean toward sharper edges, but notice they are in the foreground.  The background edges and the round parts are plenty soft.  I actually try pretty hard to get everything closest to the viewer in focus.  I plan to do a portrait with only eyes, lips and nose in focus with everything else gradually fading away, basically as a study.
    i really appreciate the feedback and please keep it coming.  The conversation we have here is one of the many reasons I love this forum.  Have you been to wet canvas recently?  It's a graveyard by comparison.
  • I'm looking at this on my phone, @MikeDerby so it's a bit small to see everything but what I'm seeing looks fabulous. She's got such a lovely face. And those deep dark eyes are awesome.

    BTW, I dropped by Wet Canvas a few months back and you're right - not much life there.
  • As a draftsman, woodworker and even banking, sharp edges have been your stock in trade for years. I think your transition to softer lines has progressed remarkably well. 
  • @MikeDerby - there is a second very subtle highlight/reflection in her iris -- I would add that if you can.

  • @MikeDerby !  why are you posting it here and not in the post your painting section?  I missed all of this.  It never occurred to me to come to this thread to see WIPs - very nice work. 
  • edited July 2017
    Wow! Fantastic! I wouldn't worry over the background, looks great with little detail in it at all, or as unfinished if you want. You did such a magnificent job on her that it's not that important to the whole to finish any further. Once this is fitted with a frame I don't think anyone else will be concerned. Her greatness is most important and you delivered real well, quite stunning. I am so impressed and to have witnessed this first hand like this and seemed so quick like that.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @MikeDerby this is really excellent.

    That little fuzzy grey blob over the lady's left shoulder bothers me.  I see it's in the original photo, and it's perfectly rendered, but in the painting it does seem a bit out of place.
  • Thank you Forgiveness Bob and Paul.  I agree with you Paul, except that in person it gives the painting depth.  You are seeing thru the hair to the background and for whatever reason it works.  I may paint over it when i paint over the background  :) 
    Anyway, moving on, have a look at this.  I saw this trick in a photograph.  Notice how the painting is divided into thirds by the shading in the background.  What do you think of that?  I just thought it was brilliant.  (the subject photos are flipped for now while i paint the mother).

  • wow!! you work so fast and still so perfectly..! already one finished and started on the second!
  • Thank you Move and Anwesha.  Marks method is built for speed.  After I got the hang of mixing color and quit doubting the workflow, paintings began to flow off my brush.  I am as surprised by it as you are.  I gained a lot of trust by taking the class.  
  • I agree, quite brilliant indeed, I like it when things happen like that.
  • So beautiful, @MikeDerby! You really nailed that zipper. This is an extraordinarily moving portrait. Well done!
  • Absolutely brilliant @MikeDerby! Well done indeed 
  • Thank you Rob, Richard and Foregiveness.  I love that zipper, and to think that I almost left it out.  I also noticed that @Petroglifo used the three shaded background in his still life.  
  • edited July 2017
    More mixing.  Never did a double at this size.  The prairie girls were tiny.  Will try one face at a time.

  • edited July 2017
    Mike this is amazing!  There is one detail I keep getting hung-up on that might bother her when she sees it. Her eyelashes are quite perfect in the photo but in the painting some of the lashes appear a bit "clumped" which is what happens when mascara is old, too thick, or inexpertly applied.  This woman is gorgeous and she has clearly taken care with her make up application (no clumps).  Anything you can do to thin out some of the fatter eyelashes will likely improve the image and ensure your subject is happier with  the results. 
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @MikeDerby that's a lot of steps that all look black from here.

    I like the "thirds" shading trick, it looks perfectly good as a background.  The zipper is a really nice touch - it's essentially gold jewelry against a black background next to those rich skin tones.  Good job.
  • Thank you @Bancroft414  .  I will work on that.  It is not in my area of expertise  :)
     Thank you Paul.  The one line is for hair. The next is misc.  the third is the blue shift in the face.  One side of the hair is browner and redder.  The other is greyer and bluer.  I am probably being too precise.  Maybe just overdid it.
  • I love how you've painted her hair. She will love it.  :)
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