Finished portrait of “Christine”

I shared a progress photo a couple of weeks ago of a portrait commission I was working on. Now that Christmas is past and the portrait has been delivered (to tears and delight), I can post the finished painting. This was a fun-and challenging-project, as the cell phone reference photo was dark, shadowed and a little blurry.  My goal was to create a bright, happy, girly portrait that wasn’t too sweet. According to her mom, mission accomplished!

Working in graphite

Years ago, long before watercolor came into my life, most of my work was done in graphite, ink or scratchboard. While learning watercolor, I came across the work of Georges Seurat. His drawings in particular are very inspiring – the soft edges, the richness of values and the depth of expression are all masterful, and something to aspire to. This is the first graphite piece I’ve done in a while, and I kept Seurat’s drawings in mind the entire time I worked on it.

3 paintings in a day

With “small works” shows gaining in popularity, and the different opportunities that pop up to show work in a limited space, I’ve been working on some new paintings in a variety of sizes. The two square pieces are 8×8″ and the study of the totem pole is 9×12″. All three are watercolor on textured canvas, and were completed in one long day in the studio. Once finished, the paintings are varnished to protect the  surface and eliminate the need for glass.

Bringing someone to tears

The phrase “the eyes are the window to the soul” always comes to mind when I paint a portrait. In fact, whether the subject is a person or a pet, every painting starts with the eyes. When working on a commissioned portrait, the pressure to “get it right” is pretty intense. With “Christine,” I was able to show the work-in-progress to this little cutie’s mom. When she started crying at the sight of a cell phone photo of the painting, I knew it was on track. The first thing she said was “those are my baby’s eyes!”

Today’s palette of colors

Had a request on Facebook to share my current palette, so thought I’d share it here as well. All are Daniel Smith watercolors. The code is: *=favorites, +=secondary, ×=lightly used.

Top row: phthalo yellow green(*), perylene green(*), green apatite genuine(+), cobalt turquoise(+), cobalt teal(*), manganese blue hue(+), lunar blue(×), cobalt blue(*), french ultramarine(*), imperial purple(*), payne’s blue-grey(×), verditer blue(×)

Yellows, top row: hansa medium(×), mars yellow(*), raw siena(*); bottom row: aussie red-gold(×), cadmium orange hue(+), monte amiata siena(×)

Reds, top row: perylene red(×), permanent alizarin crimson(×), transparent red oxide(*); bottom row: rhodonite genuine(×), burnt siena(+), van dyke brown(*)

I have a tackle box full of other colors, and will sometimes pull in a few different paints for a specific subject. For now though, these are the go-to colors…