"Creativity is...adapting the rules to suit the situation." ~ author unknown.
Around this time last year, I ran a blog contest for my subscribers. One of my newest subscribers was disappointed that she didn't win the prize, a set of hand painted cards with autumn leaves. She wrote to tell me about it.
I appreciated her feedback and we started messaging each other. I would like to think of her as a friend now.
At that time, I suggested I could paint a portrait for her, possibly of her children.
As it happened, I saw a photo of the subscriber on Facebook and decided that I would paint her instead.
This is a 6x9 mixed media portrait on watercolour paper.
To begin the process, the paper is treated with a coat of white gesso. I sketch the general contours of the face with charcoal and then, with more gesso, I start filling in the shadows and shapes I see with blended charcoal and gesso.
This technique is one I learned this year in the online lessons at Let's Face It. (I am so thankful for all the talented artists who have shared their knowledge in the weekly courses this year!) http://karabullockart.com
The first rough sketch is a tonal study in white and shades of grey.
At this stage, that is, the point in the process when I feel the work is coming together, I let the subscriber know that I am painting her portrait and ask permission to publish her photo and the portrait on my blog and other social media sites.
I continue work on the portrait. I add flesh colour to the face using pastel pencils and then blending and softening the colours.
Next, I collage a background and when I see the portrait is satisfactory, I send a copy to the subscriber of the portrait in an app. This way, she has an idea of the finished product without really seeing the portrait itself. I ask for feedback and all is fine so I proceed to finish the painting.
Here is the finished version once again passed through an art app. The app softens the lines and blends the colours more evenly. I find this version very pleasing.
In the above photo, I toned down the background with a gesso wash so that the face is the focus again.
I look for different effects within the app's features, but I do not digitally touch up the portrait as I might do in Procreate when I am less than satisfied with the work I have done.
Then comes the playful part...using my one and only creamy Sennelier oil pastel, I dab more colour on the face and like the effect. More is better? The portrait seems to come alive with each layer of colour. I am really liking this!
After using pastel pencils, more oil pastel, Neocolor II crayons, more charcoal, more pastel pencils, more gesso, and on and on....so many adjustments that I am driving myself crazy running up and down the stairs to my art room, I decide that she is done and I will ruin it if I continue.
I am generally happy with the face, but I can always find improvements to make. However, there comes a time when I have to let it go and move onto other learning opportunities.
One last quality control element remains. My hubby. He has a good eye for little details, and he gives it the OK so I know it really is finished.