Friday, January 23, 2015

Portrait of Rob

I stopped doing my tobogganing painting - trees are hard and the painting is large. I started a new portrait on Jan 19 and finished it - I'm pretty sure it's finished - today, Jan 23. It is of Rob - from a great photo taken of him a couple of years ago.

Here is the pencil drawing. I did it by dividing the photos and canvas into squares - to help get the proportions accurate. As you can see, the nose is way to short. It looks more like Pete than Rob.

 The end of the first day of painting. Definitely has a Rob-like look . The neck is scarey.

 I wanted to have a meaningful background so tried to put in a exterior of the the Fort McMurray Airport from the McFarlane Green website. It didn't seem to be working. I didn't know what to do about the grass on each side (because I don't think there ended up being any grass) and I was pretty sure the red walls were actually natural wood.

I changed the background to the interior of the airport near one of the gates - looking out at the prairie through big windows. I also adapted this image from the McFarlane Green website. I think it makes a much better background. Pretty geometric. I softened the shadows and highlights on the face a bit. The photo is a little paler than the real thing because of the lighting. I think it really looks like Rob. I hope he likes it.

So this portrait took less than half as long to do as the one of Henry. Both atr fonr on 20x24 inch panels but Rob is just head and shoulders while Henry is the top half of his body. The paint is not thick as the first portrai because I had a  more accurate drawing to work from. The skin colours are more yellowish. Henry is more pink.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I have just started a new snow picture. I am taking it from a photo of Henry tobogganing at Silver Star in the Okanagan at Christmas time. I like this subject because it goes with my Mount Washing picture - but is actually a lot harder  because it has so many trees. But I'm eager to give it a try.

I started yesterday with a quick sketch. I know the sky isn't pink to the top. That will come later.

 Today I added some pale yellow to try to define where the snow is on the branches.

Then tried to darken the dark parts of the trees where there is no snow. 

I'm pretty happy with my drawing so far. The tree in the middle is a bit odd but it's just because it's being pressed down by the snow. As far as accuracy goes, it's not a demanding as a portrait. But trees are tricky - they can't just be faked. In fact when you are painting a real object or scene, you can't fake it. You have to be free and you still have to be careful.  I am just using acrylics and water .

I am basing my style on an early painting by Lauren Harris - well not really - just hoping to make the shapes of the trees and snow on the trees look a bit like his. 

He doesn't have any strange misshapen trees in his painting. That's what I love about Lauren Harris - everything is always perfect.

Monday, January 12, 2015


I just had the most fun week painting a portrait of one of my grandsons - Henry. I was inspired to try portrait painting again by my friend and fellow new artist, Jim. Jim has been painting up a storm for the past year and showed me some portraits he has been doing. Very cool! I thought - I did a portrait of my mom in 2012 - Maybe I should see if I can do one in acrylics.

I started with a photo I had taken last June - at school on Grandparents Day

On January 6, I made a sketch which I hoped had the right proportions and shape. It turned out that the arms were too small - but I think that is because the head kept getting larger than my plan.

I then roughed in the colours. Exciting. Light is going to come in from the right back.

 I got a little over enthusiastic with the colours. I honestly didn't know what colours to use.

And finally finished it on January 12. I ended up using white, chrome red, yellow orchre, burnt umber, payne's grey and viridian for the skin, viridian and paynes grey, yellow and orange for the tee shrit and chrome green and yellow for the background.
The eyes were my biggest challenge - they were always too big. Several times I tried to make them smaller - but in the end they turned out bigger than I intended - but that's OK. He looks like Henry and is full of charm and personality! What a great week! Now I have 3 more grandsons to try out my portrait skills on.

In March 2015 I decided to redo this picture.  I liked it a lot but it didn't look like Henry. Mainly the face was too wide. I worked for several days and redid a lot of it. it still doesn't look Henry but it's a lot better anatomically but lacks the devilish gleam in his too far apart eyes.