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A New Portrait (Part 2)


I rarely get enough time to paint. Even when I plan ahead, chaos interferes. I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated. To avoid going mad with the paintings that are trying to pry themselves out of me, I paint in short spurts. If I'm lucky, I'll get a few hours to myself on the weekends. This is why acrylic is my current medium of choice. I use the same painting approach as I would with oil but everything dries faster. Decisions have to be made more quickly. With that said, it's just paint. You can paint over it if you're not happy with it. Just, for the love of Pete, don't use black paint from the tube (unless you like starting over from scratch). Mix your blacks and try not to use them until last.

So this is where I left off:

For the first session, I started working at a table. Today I decided to use my easel. I need to see the panel upright so I can stand a distance away to check my work. I work everywhere: on the floor, seated at a table, standing at an easel, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that you can see what you're doing and you're comfortable.

Now that I've had 48 hours away from the panel, I immediately see problems. Like, everywhere. Her arm: it looks too short. I measure the arm on the photo: 5 inches. I measure the arm on the canvas: 10 inches. Exactly the right length. I never would have thought I could have eyed it so accurately, but there you have it. So, why does it look too short?

This Painting Truth comes from my teacher, M. J. Venrick. Believability is more important than accuracy. It might be exactly the right length but if it doesn't look right, it isn't right. It may be the shoulder area or the length of her blouse. Both, I see. This is when I realize her right shoulder is WAY too broad. I have broad shoulders. Frances did not. Here's another painting truth: Every painting is a self portrait. It is inevitable that you will apply a personal feature without thinking about it. Watch out for that.

When I get ready to rough in the shrubbery, I'll narrow her shoulder by bringing in that background color. To make sure I remember, I remove some of the paint in that area.

Another problem. Frances' boob at the left and the way her shirt wraps her body is bothering me. The lines I've placed are also in the "correct" areas but she looks like she's missing one of her "hang two's" (as she liked to call them). That will never do. She was proud of her figure. I have every intention of representing her figure well.
Ditching the wrap blouse

A better likeness of her figure
Also, I don't want to have her completely surrounded by shrubbery. My grandmother has passed on. A hint of blue sky is called for.

I bring her resting leg forward visually with thinned gesso. The leg she is actually standing on is obscured by a rose bush. Overall, the lower area needs darkening to bring her figure forward a bit. I use a wash of umber and primary blue, a nice transparent olive. This darkens everything without making hard edges in the paint.


Well, the clock has struck. Super short session. Time to clean up.

Toodles.

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