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Mike Derby Portrait Blog



  • Sorry @MikeDerby, I didn't mean that there was anything wrong with the blue. It's just the size and intensity (correct intensity) that I think would impede MY progress if I was painting it. Especially my ability to accurately mix colors. But yours is terrific.

  • And now, steps for faces.
  • Getting closer every day @MikeDerby. I'ts looking fabulous so far. I look forward to the video.

  • Here is my progress on happy family the last couple of days.  I am on vacation and not working on it too hard.  I have been binge watching a certain ridiculous mini-series.  I will never make the challenge with it.  I have another one I will varnish with a week to spare and submit.  Meanwhile, I hope you like this.  One is almost done and the other is at the halfway point.  I will blend it out tomorrow.

  • I like it like this. All your planning, patience, determination and skills are visible. I admit learning patience is difficult. I wanted to see this completed since you first posted the source. 
  • edited October 2017
    Thanks Bob, I appreciate the feedback.  I have the curse so it punches me a little while I am in the process.  I promised this one would be looser.  Its so big I can't do it tight or it would take forever.  But I admit it looks a little crude to me up close.  When I stand back I like it much better. 
    The little girl is almost done.  Just some touch ups later.  The boy is about 75%.  He needs some value adjustments and shaping.  I will do the shaping first but it occurs to me I need some hair to provide some context to the values in the face.  They look high but check out good on the reference. In the interim I am going to lay in the younger boy.

  • I was going to say after first seeing the latest pictures that the hair would help when judging the values in the face. Then you said it yourself.. :)
  • This is coming along wonderfully! Don't let that curse get you down. That's why it's good to post. I am learning a great deal from you each time you post and update, so thank you for that. 
  • Looks better with hair.  Wont need as much adjustment as first appeared necessary but I have some fiddling to do.  The next boy is about half done.  I am still becoming accustomed to this fine linen. The dark patch on his collar is where I used a bit of oil to remove a bit of paint smudged there.  That is an illustration of how oxidized the paint has already become.

  • There is nothing like a cell phone photo to make me dislike what I do.  Every flaw is so glaring.  But in room light from 6 feet, it is really starting to come together.

  • Looking good Mike! Are you going to soften some of the lines there for the features?
  • edited October 2017
    Sure, I will work on that some more.
  • Sorry, had family here this week..

    Mike: I meant the hairline on the boys, the eyelashes and the line of the mouth on the blond girl.
  • Hands and faces, it turns out, are much the same, except for the eyes of course.  Dad needs more work but i like the hands.
    rautchetanSummer[Deleted User]
  • This is coming along nicely, @MikeDerby! Perseverance is paying off. And yes, look at it as multiple paintings in one so it is no longer such a daunting task. 
  • Nice hands @MikeDerby!  This is really coming together.

    Dad's mustache looks too dark to me, and prevents you from painting his left nostril, which is slightly visible in the photo, and that makes his nose look a bit 2D.

    You really are taking on about a dozen different textiles, each one of which I'd have trouble with.

    I keep wanting the upper right child's left hand to be an ice cream cone.
  • edited October 2017
    Boy, what a project! So good to watch it coming together. So big and complex! Thanks @MikeDerby for letting us watch the process. :)
  • You can never have too much light

    Thank you Renoir Paul and Rob. I appreciate the tip on the dad's nose.  I missed that.  Here is the latest update.  The more I work with it the more it think of it as an underpainting.  Anyway, four down, two to go, then the background, and finally the canvas will be covered.

    PaulBSummer[Deleted User]
  • Oh I love seeing Mom's face!
  • I painted the baby last night but its not good enough to show yet.  Today I did yardwork and uploaded videos of paint mixing and face painting.  I will do mom's hand tomorrow, hopefully fix the baby and maybe bang in some background.  The canvas is almost covered.  At that point I will consider it about 75% complete.  I really do want do go back over every inch.
  • This painting gives such a positive message, I hope you will keep us up-to-date of its travels.  I feel sure it's going places and will be multiplied in the media many times during its lifetime.  Who knows?  It may even go viral on the Internet!  Good vibes about this one. 
  • Still not as refined as I would like but babies are hard.  Weeks of work remaining I think.  Thank you @summer.  I hope it gets some notice.  If its good enough I may be tempted to enter it in a competition.

    BOB73RenoirBancroft414[Deleted User]
  • Great work. I'm glad the hands didn't give you problems. Thanks for all the updates as you go along.
  • I think you did a good job with the baby and the mom. Babies, and children, are very hard to do. 
  • This is coming together beautifully.  I love the light you are capturing.  I want the edges to be a bit softer in places but this is something you are likely planning to do after you have all the subjects painted. You are in the home stretch!!
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Thank you @BOB73 , @renoir , @Bancroft414 , and @jarube.  I am looking forward to the next phase of this work.
  • Thanks @MikeDerby for continuing to post this WIP, really enjoying watching
  • Hands and some background.  I am definitely treating this as an underpainting.  I am dissatisfied in the outcome so I will have to go over every inch of it again.

  • Hmm.. why do you think it's not working as well as you would like at the moment?
  • It just looks a little ham handed and cartoonish to me at the moment, especially the Dad and some of the hair and background.  I will admit that if I stand off from it a little and let my eyes do the blending it works pretty well.  But you cannot tell that here because everything is a closeup.
    Here it is with the canvas covered after 3 months, which is probably too fast, and the studio lights off so the glare is gone. Its a little wonky anyway.
    I knew all along I had to do a second pass anyway to get the grass in and add highlights but I can tell the figures will also need work.  Your feedback on specific items which need attention will help.

    PaulB[Deleted User]ForgivenessRenoir
  • Very nice @MikeDerby.

    I think there are a couple of points that might need some thinking, like boy-kissing-father's right hand, which is a little ghostly.  The bright curve connecting the throw blanket to the left edge (knee outline?) looks a little sharp.  I think the little girl's hair needs more dark streaks, especially behind her ear.

    I would remove the Kenny Loggins portrait in the trees.

  • Thank you @PaulB , I lol when I saw it.  Susan too!  I am still looking for the right place to embed a hat for Bob 
  • Forget the hat, that open space on the right, middle distance, is perfect for a faintly glowing Yoda.
  • edited October 2017
    Your work is wonderful.
    Your videos is just what I needed to see. Thank you for taking the time to do them and for sharing them. I don't have Marks video yet so thanks again.
  • I might as well have been using a house painting brush, compaired to the size you are using. That one thing is hugh and to watch you mix your paints is great. Also seeing not to freakout during the process. cant thank you enough for sharing.
  • For those of you who appreciate a good analysis, here it is.  Oh and an incredible painting too!
    If I ever copy a masterwork, this may be it. 
  • I was told there'd be no math!
  • Thank you @kschaben, @tgarney and @paulB.  Yoda it is!  @Bancroft414 - life is math, math is life.  I am sorry you were mislead. :)
    Here is a portrait I did for a holiday swap.  I blew the forehead but the rest looks pretty good.  Total of 5 hours invested.

  • In the imortal words of Mrs. Weasley.. "Where HAVE  You been?!"  Really nice portrait for five hours. I must know a dozen women who look like her. They are all the kind of person you'd like to have as an aunt. Haven't seen the video yet, saving it for dessert.
  • @BOB73 I have been working, and recovering from working, and drawing, and painting this little portrait, which I cannot leave alone.  I have also been waiting for the Happy Family to dry a little so I can put the next layer on.  I have actually mixed all the paint for the throw but have only worked on it about an hour.
    I am still frustrated with the paint not sticking.  I cannot imagine what I am doing wrong, but I am about to resort to using liquin, which I dislike due to the smell.
    I have also been experimenting with grounds.  @movealonghome mentioned that the gesso he used is causing his paint to sink in quickly.  I have experienced that as well.  Therefore, I like the Griffin Alkyd technique that Mark teaches, but once again, I have had trouble getting paint to stick when the linen or panel is smooth.  So I purchased some marble dust from Natural Pigments and painted the holiday swap on a canvas prepared with it.  So much better.  I mixed the marble with the stain and when it was dry, added one more coat of the stain to hold the dust in place.  I used medium grit but will try fine grit next.  It gives the surface of the completed painting a wonderfully different texture and appearance.
    I have been looking on from my desk and am so glad that Kingston and Esther are back.  I have also been impressed with some of the new work that has been done.  Unfortunately, there is little time to offer many comments.
  • Hmmm @MikeDerby and @movealonghome I've had some ground probs too. I started a landscape on stretched linen, pre-primed (oil) so I just wiped some stain on with a rag, let it dry, and began. After a couple of hours the paint went sticky and horribly blotchy - not good given it was a sky with a subtle transition. I wiped it back and tried again with the same result. I need to re-prime I think (should never had trusted the factory job), but I'm sick of wasting time on it so in the meantime I'm gonna start something smaller. I never had that problem with the acrylic gesso on dibond.

    I agree, Liquin stinks. 

    Looking forward to the next iteration of the family.
  • @MikeDerby Have you tried W&N clear gesso? It has silica or something similar in it that gives a very strong tooth (but can be sanded easily to be smoother). I found in my tests it helped opacity when moving paint around as it gripped the paint more than white gesso.
  • At the moment the method that best suits me is to apply one coat of W&N clear gesso over a panel with a flat brush (not tried on canvas) and then to lightly sand with worn 600 grit sandpaper. It gets rid of a bit of the tooth but still leaves enough that it grips the paint when blending. I find softer brushes feel nicer when brushed over the surface than harder brushes.
  • @MikeDerby I'm sorry about the technical difficulties. We should revisit the marble dust solution when you have more time. Peek in when you can. Give the Happy Family my best, I look forward to seeing them again.
  • Oh I am around.  I will be painting the throw this weekend.  I just had a couple side projects to fill my time while the family rested.  I will let you know how the fine marble dust works.
    @Richard_P - I just bought some clear gesso and will try it next.  The idea is to use it with acrylic colors to stain the canvas the color I need it under the paint.  Not all neutral tan but green under foliage, beige under flesh, brown under hair etc.  I did it once before and the results were pretty exciting.  Now that I am a better draughtsman and more confident, I am not so worried about losing my reference marks as long as I have some golden key points to get me back to the right spot.

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