Portrait WIP

Well, I've not done much painting over the last little while, so I thought I'd better get cracking on the portrait challenge if I have any hope of meeting the deadline.

This is my son when he was about four (apologies for the lens distortion). This was painted about a week and a half ago and is now dry, so any hints on being able to seamlessly join the new with the old greatly appreciated - I guess I should have tried to leave a better edge to paint into.

I think my mixing is a bit off and a bit too grey/green - the last time I saw a forehead this colour was in The Walking Dead - but I'll stick with the method and cover it all before deciding on whether its OK or not.

Early days yet, but any comments/suggestions welcome. For my 2nd painting I'm certainly feeling well out of my depth!

30cm x 30cm, on gessoed aluminium panel.



  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Looking good @Roxy.  With the one exception of the hat brim in the upper right, the colors look really good to me.  That's a great expression he has, and from what I can see of the drawing, you captured that.  I look forward to seeing it progress.

    Good luck with that horizontal edge.  That looks like a tough problem to solve.
  • Looks like a great start. Yeah, that edge..... oiling out might help, maybe a bit of a wipe with some solvent to soften it? I'm just guessing here, might be a bit of an act of desperation to go with the solvent  :o... hopefully someone on here has more of a clue than I have.
  • You might need some of those colours again on the neck and right hand side of the face. If so then use them to paint over the edge and then blend into the new values below.
  • PaulB said:

    ...Good luck with that horizontal edge.  That looks like a tough problem to solve.
    Please say more about the horizon edge. I have no idea what you are referring to!

    BTW this is great so far. I love the hat and his expression. I am considering a portrait of my daughter taken 8 years ago at the beach also with a hat! The big difference beside their ages (she was 11) is the expression -- she is DONE with sun and posing for pics -- total scowl. Cracks me up every time I see it! 
  • edited August 2017
    Looking very good thus far, @Roxy. Your skin tones look spot on but, as has been said, things can look weird until you get the surrounding colours in. With that edge, just mix the colour again and go over it. If there is a bit of a ridge you don't want you could just scrape it with a palette knife or rub it softly with a bit of fine sandpaper then repaint.

    I look forward to seeing this develop.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    PaulB said:

    ...Good luck with that horizontal edge.  That looks like a tough problem to solve.
    Please say more about the horizon edge. I have no idea what you are referring to!
    See this horizontal line (taken from the first progress photo), where the paint ends and the salmon-coloured stain picks up?  Right across the forehead.

    As @Roxy stated, the painting dried over a ten-day break.  When painting resumes, all those forehead colors have to be matched, to continue painting the forehead.  With a dry painting, there can be no blending with the old and new paint.  That's just a technically difficult thing to do, hence my "good luck".  The risk is that the new paint is not a perfect match, and that horizontal line will be detectable after the painting is finished.

    @Roxy is asking for tips on how to handle this, and I hope someone has advice, because I have no clue, and I'm eager to find out.  In my case, I have taken an unexpected 6-week break, and all my works in progress are now quite dry, and I will have exactly this problem when I resume (Tuesday!).

    Ideally, when we take a break from a painting, we break at a convenient time, such as when the petal is fully painted, rather than half-way through painting a petal, and furthermore we try to paint alla prima, so we can blend when we resume.  But sometimes, things don't work out the way we plan.

  • Great going @Roxy everything looks good. I see that you have Mabef easel too. This will last a lifetime.
  • Thanks everyone for taking the time to look and for your input.

    @PaulB - Thanks for pointing out the contrast/colour on the hat, I hadn't noticed that. I think I'll leave it till the end and then see if I need to tone it down. And thanks for answering @Bancroft414's question! Good to hear we will soon be seeing some more progress updates from you.

    I think I'll tackle it by combining @movealonghome, @Boudicca, @RichardP, and @Tassieguy's suggestions (oil out, smooth the edge where needed and then try and match). I suspect I may end up repainting. My intention was to maintain a wet edge and not have a break, but things like work got in the way.  

    Thanks @Kaustav - I have the small table-top easel, that I have modified to make more stable, and to allow it to hold smaller canvases. Works a treat.
  • I'm thinking the whole forehead might be over painted to eliminate a bad line of old and new. That's not expert advice, merely an observation. The green cast is not a problem as it is natural to have surounding colors reflect on the face.
  • I know there's a way to go yet, @Roxy but it's looking amazing already. The eyes are already stunning and the greenish shadows/reflected light next to the eye is working beautifully. I'm so enjoying watching this take shape.  :)
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Niw work @Roxy - you just skipped the whole "making mediocre paintings" step, and went straight to @anwesha level.  This is looking really good.

    The colors look all wrong on the cheek/jaw area, which is what is supposed to happen.  How are you enjoying the 30cm x 30cm size, which I believe is unusually small for you?
  • This is looking amazingly realistic. The painting is better than the photo.
  • @Roxy, Sorry you thought my comment was off topic, I guess I didn't word it correctly.
  • @BOB73, oops I have no idea how that happened. Many apologies I must have inadvertently swiped it. Far from being off topic, you were bang on the money with your prediction. I've changed it to something more accurate!

    Thanks @Boudicca, @tassieguy and @PaulB for the positive response. Still a way to go, and plenty of opportunity for things to turn pear-shaped yet!. Thanks @movealonghome, I have no idea how capturing the expression will go - I think the mouth area is the weakest part of my drawing and is the bit I'm least looking forward to, so we'll see. The thing I'm struggling with at the moment is mixing and applying enough paint. Stupid really given its size. That will be my challenge over the next little bit.

    PaulB - I'm finding the size quite convenient actually, just large enough to add fine detail, and not so large that it will take weeks to complete. 
  • This is terrific so far.  I was a little worried about the line across the forehead but you seem to have handled it.  The eyes are spot on.  Mark says to feather the edges a bit between sessions to hide seams and it works for me
  • The portrait looks really good... even though its so close to the reference, I like your version better as you are capturing the light pink shades in the cheeks in the corner of the eyes.
  • Looks like you are making excellent progress. Keep it up.
  • The mouth is drawn well enough. I think the shadows around the lips might have to be softened/lighter to get a good expression and define the way the upper lip curves in at the corners. I think you have the skill to do that too.
  • Thanks @MikeDerby, good advice - I'll make a habit of that from now on. And also thanks for the feedback @anwesha, @renoir and @Bob73

  • edited August 2017
    BOB73 said:
    @Roxy, Sorry you thought my comment was off topic, I guess I didn't word it correctly.
    I blame smart phones and our thumbs for inadventant responses to comments  -- lets all try to be careful as we scroll! I may have been guilty of the same!!
  • BTW -- excellent progress on this! Seriously SO great -- especially the eyes!! Watch that you keep you values dark enough in the shadows up under the hat on the left. 
  • Real beautiful portrait, looks especially great on aluminum panel!
  • @Roxy, this is extraordinary realism. Your drawing is so precise and the tonal gradations and colour transitions are amazing. The translucent look of the skin is awesome. There are no brushstrokes visible so one would be hard pressed to distinguish this from a photo. Great work!
  • Oh my goodness! Wow.  What brushes are you using and what is your blending technique?
  • That's phenomenal.  Beautiful work.  I agree with @movealonghome.
  • Ditto PaulB. @MikeDerby , She uses Mommy brushes and blends with Love.
  • Thanks @Forgiveness & @tassieguy & @Flatty. In my first few paintings I'm striving to copy the source as closely as possible - helps me concentrate on mixing and handling the paint (which I'm still struggling a bit with - mostly to do with consistency in application). Once I get that sorted I'll try introducing some abstraction and playing around with a more painterly style - and hopefully end up adding a bit more of my own interpretation of the subject. My mixing is getting faster, but is still pretty slow.

    Thanks @movealonghome, Well its far from perfect but I'm happy with how its turning out so far - viewing from a distance hides a lot of sins. Thanks for pointing out the sharpness in the eye (and @PaulB and @BOB73 who back you up). I had not noticed that, but now you mention it it's quite obvious. I'll try and do some more work on softening that area. Great feedback, thanks.

    @MikeDerby - almost all of this was painted with a filbert (about 7mm wide), augmented with a small round for poking into tight corners. I'm using an Oz brush brand I bought locally (Neef 1150 series hog bristle). I have no idea how they compare to other brands, but they seem decent.

    As for blending - after reading a whole lot of commentary on this topic here and elsewhere I decided the best thing to do was just ignore all of it, and to just have a go myself and see what develops. What I did here was use a dry, clean brush and kind of scumble with the edge and the tip - sometimes dragging a bit, sometimes just tapping with the point. For me this seems to transfer paint around without the values smearing together too much - and if you go a bit harder you can lift enough paint to let some of the stain underneath shine through, which i really like. I never, ever, drag my brush through transition areas in an attempt to blend two adjacent areas together (like you see in most blending demonstrations online). That just seems to smear everything together, and destroys any vibrancy.

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to look.
  • @Roxy Said: " I decided the best thing to do was just ignore all of it (blending advice), and to just have a go myself and see what develops." It appears you made a wise decision and that's a good reminder for all who come here looking for help and advice... sometimes it is better to just try it, fix it, try again with trial and error and experimentation. 
  • What a precious baby!  And a lovely painting.  I agree that the painting looks better than the photograph - thank you for the information about the scumbling.  I also have been experimenting with different things and sometimes it works and sometimes I ruin something.  I look forward to seeing the sweater done!  Thank you for sharing.
  • Just stunning, @Roxy. You can feel the soft. satiny texture of his skin - it's something about the transition zones between the different areas of value and colour I think.  The actual colours and values are amazing.  I think you can be very proud of this one. Can't wait to see what you do next. :)

  • @Roxy I request you to please put it in the official portrait challenge section. This is certainly a good one!
  • It’s more real than real  :)
  • Wow!!!  This is absolutely stunning!
  • Gobsmacked! What patience and keen vision you have! And your little boy is absolutely adorable!

    One extremely minor point: the caruncle of the eye to the viewer's right appears too small and the white between that and the iris is to large. It may simply be a shadow, or a darker value of white, I cannot tell from here but we're talking a scarce millimeter no doubt. It has no impact on the effect of the painting, which is stunning! And yes, this MUST be in the portrait challenge. 
  • this is as photo-realistic as anyone can get! wow! the gentle curves of the cheek, the shadows everything so accurate
  • You'll need a microscope to find the brush strokes. So perfect.
  • I don't know how you get the colours and blending so perfect. It's almost flawless. Can't wait to see what you do next!!
  • Richard_P said:
    I don't know how you get the colours and blending so perfect. It's almost flawless. Can't wait to see what you do next!!
    I don't know if Roxy has any special technique, but I never use a brush with paint on it to get this type of blend.  I choose the "mop" and watercolor brushes, as many as I need, then clean them immediately afterwards.  It would be nice to know other techniques if they exist.  :)
  • Wow.  Incredible and beautiful.  How many portraits have you done?  You have a remarkable talent. Everything I have seen from you is accomplished.  Thank you for sharing with us
  • @Kaustav, yep I'll be uploading to the challenge thread soon - I'm happy to call it done. @Renoir, thanks, and yes I tend to agree with you about that eye. They were troublesome. But I think I'll leave it as is and move on. Enough fiddling!  

    @Summer, I gave a brief description of my blending technique a bit above in response to an earlier comment by @MikeDerby. It sounds very similar to yourself - a dry clean brush every time - though I use hog filberts rather than the more traditional softer blending brushes. I tried hard not to blend the collar though.

    @MikeDerby, this is my first portrait, and my second DMP. After finishing this one I'm convinced its mostly about sticking to the method and having persistence. That wretched collar was wiped clean 3 or 4 times, but I just kept plugging away until I was happy with it. The trick for me is to try and forget about the object and just focus on the abstract shapes. But I find that is easier said than done.

    And thanks @tassieguy, @Boudicca, @Bancroft414, @anwesha, @Bob73 & @Richard_P for taking the time to look and comment, it is greatly appreciated. Happy painting everyone!
  • @Roxy   absolutely stunningly superb!!!
  • Wow!!!!!!!!!!  And thanks for all your insight into your process.

  • Photo real. Insanely good
  • How is this even a painting??!!  

    You have my respect.  This is absolutely magnificent.
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