Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

You can send an email to [email protected] if you have questions about how to use this forum.

Portrait Challenge BLOG

2

Comments

  • What an exciting challenge this has become.  So many entries.  I have several things in mind and so I decided to run them by you to see what you think I should do.  The first I have not yet photographed but it is a portrait of myself in a genre painting titled "Allegory of a Draftsman", since, you know, I can't draw a bath but I can draft anything.
    The second one is my girls at the Tower of London in front of the Tower Bridge.

    Next is my niece and her daughter.  I have several of these to choose from.  

    And finally, my nephew John is now engaged to his long time love Amanda, so I could do them together as a wedding gift.  I also have dozens of these to choose from.

    Of these, my nieces are definitely the hardest because they are so evenly lit.  My girls are next in line but the big white negative space over their head detracts from the composition.  They are all so darn cute its a difficult choice.  The secret is, I will eventually paint them all anyway so no worries that you will cost someone a picture.  Also, there is no guarantee I won't exercise my prerogative to change my mind and paint the Duchess of Cambridge.  =)=)=)=)
    rautchetanKaustavBOB73
  • edited June 2017
    Mike, I think they are all good. The ones of your niece and her daughter and of John and Amanda are really sweet and compositionally they would work with very little tweaking. However, because I love landscape, I'd find it hard to resist doing the one the girls at Tower Bridge. I agree that compositionally it is a problematic picture because of the blank section above their heads but maybe you could do something with the clouds up there to tie that area into the picture. Nor sure how, though. Because of this problem I would probably go with the second photo of your niece and here daughter. It would be the easiest for me to do. If you do that one I assume you'll get rid of some of the bits and pieces in the background, no?

    Anyway, it's good to have so much material to chose from and I'm sure, based on your previous work, that you'll produce a beautiful portrait.
    PaulBKaustavForgiveness
  • They would all make fine portraits I think. Before deciding I'd spend some time in a photo analysis program playing around with aspect ratios and cropping, to see what might emerge. Keep an eye on the camera lens distortion in the top one - looks like some barrel effects in the tower.
    PaulB
  • Mike: If you play around with curves in photoshop (or other paint programs) you can expand the value range to some extent. See if this helps:


    PaulBBOB73
  • Thank you @tassieguy . I agree with everything you said except that the neices would be the easiest.  I will definitely declutter the background.  For the tower bridge, I considered extracting the girls and repositioning them relative to the space between the towers.  I will have to play around with that.
    Thank you @roxy , I will definitely recompose any camera distortion.  I always redraw the perspective lines with a straight edge now.  I learned my lesson after the embarrassment of the window frame in Mrs O'Flynn.
    Thank you @Richard_P .  I really like what you did there.  Did you use photoshop or your free one?  Ever consider doing a WIP of that process?
    PaulB
  • edited June 2017
    MikeDerby said:
    Thank you @tassieguy . I agree with everything you said except that the neices would be the easiest.  I will definitely declutter the background.  For the tower bridge, I considered extracting the girls and repositioning them relative to the space between the towers.  I will have to play around with that..
    Yes, repositioning the girls so they are framed by the bridge would be fabulous. Had you stood back a bit when you took the photo it might have turned out that way. There's probably a way to do it but I wouldn't have a clue how you would go about it in Photoshop or GIMP. Probably, @Richard_P, or maybe @Denis would know how to do it.

    All the best with the portrait whichever one you decide to do.

  • I agree with everybody Mike. I like the tower composition. I wouldn't center them though. the top part is easily fixed with cloudishness as it is already an overcast and you could make the flags a little bigger and flying high or add some more.
  • edited June 2017
    Hi @MikeDerby,

    I use Paint.NET (free) and the curves tool to darken the darks, brighten the lights, and therefore increasing the contrast in the middle values as they now have more range. Here is the curves setting I used:



    You see how the steepness of the flat line between the dots has been increased compared to the dotted original line. That's the increased range for the values from 25% to 75% :)
    rautchetan
  • Too much of a learning curve for me.
    [Deleted User]
  • OK, so there are a bunch of spam files that want to download when i go to paint.net to get the program.  I have clicked on multiple download buttons and none of them were actually Paint.net.  This is just a little too scary for me so I think i will try to figure it out in Photoshop.
  • Mike, Is that an old photo? are you using that because the daughter is still a little girl. Just wondering if you could get a new (better) photo.
  • You can do the same in Photoshop if you have it already. Just go to the curves tool.
    Forgiveness
  • @Flatty. Where do you want the individual portrait challenge BLOGs?
  • I posted mine in "Post Your Paintings", I hope this is ok? 
    Flatty
  • Since we have a challenge going on, I thought I would pass along a fascinating set of videos I found on Sargent.  The instructor could be Mark.  He says all the same things.



    IrishcajunKaustavrautchetanForgiveness
  • edited July 2017
    @MikeDerby I have seen this video twice. It is very helpful indeed.
  • I agree, these videos are very helpful, I discover them also some months ago
  • I'm interested in the challenge but I'm not committing to it until I get notes from my Doctor and contractor.
  • edited July 2017
    (I wasn't sure where to put this so I put it under the photography and printmaking page but on second thoughts maybe it should go here.) 

    This is a Thai friend who uses part of our land to grow flowers which he sells at the markets in town. I thought I might surround him with his wares but he just got back from a month in Thailand so had nothing fresh when I took the photo today. But I could just add the flowers around him later when he goes to cut some and in the meantime start on the portrait.

    Does the photo need to be cropped or is it ok as is? Do you think the colour scheme works? (Imagine lots of green foliage around him with a few discrete flowers mixed in.) 

    I've never done a portrait and I have heaps of questions re technique but they will probably be answered in Mark's portrait video which I've bought and will now watch. For the  moment I just want to know if folks think the basic idea and photo are ok and, if not, how I could make improvements. Because it's my first portrait I want to keep things as simple as possible. 

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

    Rob

  • I like this one Rob.  His head is in the perfect spot.  I like the colors.  I don't know what you would crop out because you almost need to see all the way past his hands.  I wouldn't have that plant on his back but you mentioned having his wares around him which I think is a really good idea.  You have a really good eye and I know you will come up with something really nice.  I can't wait!
    BOB73
  • I would focus on the face above the tattoo and try to leave the background the same color.  When you add color to the background you have to deal with reflected light.  Notice the reflected light all along his right cheek and forehead is all off-white, just like the wall.  If you add flowers and foliage but not the reflected light color he will look out of place.  It's an advanced technique for a first portrait.  It is also much easier to paint against a dark background because the contrast is better.  However, this photo has good contrast AND a hat.
    BOB73
  • I agree, trying to combine two different images is difficult. For a first portrait I'd try to make it as easy as possible for yourself!
  • RonnaRonna -
    edited July 2017
    As long as he keeps the added stuff below the neck shouldn't he be ok?  I wouldn't have anything behind his back.
  • edited July 2017
    Thanks, @Ronna.

    Yes, I couldn't see what I could crop either. And, yes, the plants at his back will go - maybe just a hint of foliage and shadow in the lower back area with more in front of him. And I might try to leave the outer areas furthest from his face sort of out of focus ... In fact, leave the whole background fairly loose.

    I think the hardest thing will be getting all the subtle  gradations in the flesh tones in his face and arms.  Anyway, here I go with my first portrait. With this I'm either going to have great fun or be ripping my hair out.

    Thanks very much for looking and commenting on this, @Ronna.

    Rob :)


  • Sure Ronna, he would be ok, it's just a bunch more to paint.  A portrait is really no harder to paint than anything else but getting past the psychological barrier can be a test.  Making the first one as easy as possible helps to overcome it.
    Bancroft414Forgiveness
  • edited July 2017
    Thanks, @Richard and @MikeDerby.

    I'm sure you're right about keeping the background simple.  I won't have a great deal there - just a bit of foliage in front of him below the head with a few subtle flowers to indicate the connection with his work.

    Thanks heaps for looking and commenting.

    Rob :)




    BOB73
  • You'll only rip your hair out when you get to the tattoos.
    ForgivenessBOB73
  • edited August 2017
    Do ya think maybe we inspired a new video with this thread?  He has just released a new lesson on how to mix flesh tones. Go see it!  Yay.
    BOB73
  • MikeDerby said:
    Do ya think maybe we inspired a new video with this thread?  He has just released a new lesson on how to mix flesh tones. Go see it!  Yay.
    Yeah!  Another myth dispelled.  He's a one man university!  :)
  • Everytime I hear (read) a comment about MC I think about how fortunate we are to have found him. In my case I was looking for oil painting instruction books in all the wrong places (Michaels and other craft/hobby stores). I found out about Jerry's Artarama store only 20 miles away. When I got there they had boxed all their inventory and were about to move the store location to nearer Downtown Houston. I had already purchased all the wrong supplies and was very frustrated over my progress for the past 8 months. It was another three months before Jerry's opened (forgot to get business license). Only then did I find out about YouTube. Well I'm not a cave man and I'd tried but didn't like what I saw on youtube. The one guy who had a style I like was Russian. I don't speak Russian or read French Subtitles and I wanted to be more realistic than Wm Alexander, Bob Ross and those other "Happy Painters." There were some others worth watching but the audio quality was poor and not much use to me. I gave up for a while. I was depressed because I couldn't paint what my daughter asked for for Christmas a year ago. Another Chistmas passed. These frustrations and other things kept getting in the way. When I finally found a DMP Youtube video It took less than ten minutes to learn two of the main mistakes I was making and how to correct them. Not only that but these were things noted in other videos but not explained. This guy was a TEACHER! Unfortunately by this time it was near impossible to paint anymore. But finding DMP and this forum are truly blessings to me.

    Summeranwesha
  • @BOB It was coming across his method for laying out color groups and steps that caught my attention about two years ago.  I think Denis has been here about ten years.  Summer
    BOB73
  • I look forward to seeing your first painting DMP @BOB73!
  • So do I !!!!!!!!!!!
  • @BOB Just stay with us.  You are a great contributor to this forum.  And, we know of your other commitments and how busy you are.  You'll know when you are ready to post your first painting--and then so will we.  Summer 
    BOB73anweshaForgiveness
  • I don't know how you and PaulB are getting through it.  I think i would be painting my toenails just to be smearing color on something
    PaulB
  • How does an elephant hide in a bag of M&Ms? He paints his toenails different colors, @MikeDerby
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    MikeDerby said:
    I don't know how you and PaulB are getting through it.  I think i would be painting my toenails just to be smearing color on something
    Me neither.  But between hospital, hospice, funeral and house clearing I have no time.  I think that must be how - being busy.  With my paint thousands of miles away, I did consider getting a pochade box but that would only distract me from my real tasks.

    I have been taking photographs of the countryside, so I hope to eventually get back and make a few @Kaustav style field/tree paintings, and I've picked up a commission.  I also have Geneva palettes waiting for me at home, so I have all that keeping me going.

    I also found a stash of old drawings I made forty years ago.  Can't say i improved any since then.
    Kaustav
  • I am very sorry for your loss and your difficult time.  I know how hard that transition can be.  Painting must wait, as must most other things.  I will look forward to your work when you return.
    PaulB
  • I'm very sorry for your loss. I lost my wife of 45 years last year and my best friend and fellow firefighter of 29 years (to the day) a few months before her. She had been sick a long time but he was only 54. Getting back into painting was to be a way to help me get past my sorrow. I found DMP and this forum. It has been a Godsend for me But my daughters were not as lucky they are still trying to find a way.
    PaulB
  • BOB73 said:
    I'm very sorry for your loss. I lost my wife of 45 years last year and my best friend and fellow firefighter of 29 years (to the day) a few months before her. She had been sick a long time but he was only 54. Getting back into painting was to be a way to help me get past my sorrow. I found DMP and this forum. It has been a Godsend for me But my daughters were not as lucky they are still trying to find a way.
    I'd give you a hug, but I fear your fireman's HAT would get in the way.. :(
    BOB73
  • Thanks, there's comfort enough in those three little letters: H-U-G when they come with sincerity. But I'm still a lucky man as again today the medicos went on a safari hunting malignants on my lost continent and found none. Thankfully I slept through the spelunking side trip. As an added bonus the aftermath allowed me a restful long nap when I got home.
    PaulBRichard_PForgivenessanwesha
  • So far in my life, again and again art has shown me a redeeming quality to touch my soul with and bring me back to life again. This redeeming quality is at work within, even while suffering of loss is apparent and seem dominant. I eventually return to art, or maybe it calls me back to it when I am ready and willing. I feel grateful to have found this forum, and to be learning oil painting here with very supportive friends!
    SummerBOB73RenoirBarbara
  • I have finally taken the time to make the followup video to my Jenison Device retest video from two years ago.  I needed two years of learning and experience to make it as you will see.  If you are interested in a lazy Saturday afternoon goof and would like some entertainment, go watch me opine.  As a bonus, there is a full scale view of my studio and the happy family project.

    Search youtube for Vermeers Thumb.  
    SummeranweshaForgiveness
  • Interesting, Vermeers Thumb equals a Carder Color Checker. Would never have thought of it, but it makes sense. It puts Mark in some elevated company.

    I also enjoyed seeing you at work in your studio.  The size and scope of your new family portrait is amazing. Looking forward to seeing your progress photos.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    @MikeDerby  Really enjoyed your videos (2).  A lot of food for thought.   Summer
  • @Irishcajun and @Summer thank you for watching my videos.  As a very frustrated wannabe artist I got very wrapped up in Bill Alexander, Bob Ross and then Tim's Vermeer.  I thought there had to be a way to paint that I could grasp and apply.  Everything seemed so easy yet the results were so substandard, at least by my hand.  Then came Mark and the sky opened ... (angelic chorus singing ahhhh).
    Anywhoo, a year later and feel pretty good about my progress.

    If any of you wish to see more detailed progress on the Happy Family, I will post WIP video at mikederby.com.  I don't have any interest in becoming a YouTube personality for various reasons, not the least of which is that my employer will not appreciate it.  But my DMP friends are welcome.


    Summer
  • Thanks for posting, seeing your work is helping me and many others on the forum to grow. Looking forward to seeing the Family portrait come to life. 
  • Thanks for the videos @MikeDerby. Interesting and enjoyable  :)
  • Looking forward to the Happy Family developments on mikederby.com  Nice page.  :)
Sign In or Register to comment.