For the past few weeks, I’ve been keeping busy with work, life and other projects. So the slow pace of new artwork to post here has been prolonged.
However, I do have some new work to post today – and it ties directly into one of those other activities that has kept my hands full. Old Town Artists – the co-op of which I am part – had the opportunity to add two new members. A lot of work goes into attracting, vetting, and finally accepting new members into our ranks. Much of these duties fall onto the current president of the co-op. That happens to be me right now.
One of the new members is already jumping right in. William Portillo helped out last Friday by sitting for our portrait session. Here are the results of that sitting:
Unlike some other recent portraits, no photoshopping enhancements were necessary, besides the standard cropping and color correction. Actually, a program called Gimp is usually what is used to adjust the colors for works posted on this site. It has a function which the stripped-down Photoshop Essentials lacks: color balance sliders. These allow me to get the warm/cool mix very close to the feel of the real-life work. The raw, scanned image lacks a bit of the life and warmth of the real thing.
Now for a little process-talk on this watercolor:
I set out to ‘replicate’ the success of one of my favorite portraits from the last year; the one of another OTA member, Rebecca. The colors on that one are much more ‘realistic’ than many recent pieces (example), yet lose none of the expressiveness.
Some of the elements that I think make Rebecca work are:
- A background that is integrated into the work – the color of which is actually used to help define the edges of the figure.
- Rich, but uncomplicated half-tones. These are the less-dark shadow areas. In the William painting, the reddish face-shadow, the green shirt, and the brown in the left part of the background are the major half-tone areas.
- A fresh surface – no overworking.
- A recognizable likeness, allowing for some creative license, but anatolmically and proportionally accurate.
This last part seemed iffy, at least in the early goings.
It took two miserable pencil sketches before I gave up and decided to plunge into the actual painting. It was unclear whether the features were going to come together satisfyingly. Somehow they did, and without any overworking.
Perhaps the key was not to get hung up on the drawing alone – which tends to focus on the linear *structure* of individual feature for me. Instead, it helped to trust the large *shapes* of color and value, and the *edges* where major shapes meet.
Anyway, the picture turned out very nicely in my opinion, and I’ll try to build on this style in weeks to come: it seems to have a lot of potential for making consistently stunning portraits.