I remembered this morning that I had the Anderson Creek Kennels facebook page to use for inspiration and sure enough, there was a sweet pit in today’s pictures. I’ll probably do a bunch of doggy portraits. They’re really perfect for this size.
Calling it finished
Also figured out what to do with the background on this portrait of my brother Joe and his wife Anna. Two of my favorite people in the world. This was a pleasure to complete.
Smiling faces. I can say one thing about this series and that is, I’ve never studied so many smiling faces in my life!
You know, with life model studies the model is never smiling. It’s too hard for them to maintain an expression like that during a long pose. That’s one of the advantages to working with photos. It can be any expression at all, including the manic grin on the face of today’s portrait.
There’s something nice about working on smiling faces all the time. No matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, right in the moment that I’m working, the person whose face it is that I’m studying is in a happy place. It probably has an effect on me, too, now that I think about it. It’s probably got something to do with science. I don’t know why or how it works, but if it’s science, I approve.
No. 94, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on Canson mi-teintes paper by Marie Marfia
This woman. She is full of ideas, and mischief, which is kind of the same thing. I wanted to paint her in the style of an artist I only just found out about this morning, Richard Suckling. His plein aire landscapes are full of big marks and squiggly lines and I want my art to be like that, so today I did a more gestural drawing to start with and then I made sure I stopped before I’d completely covered it up. I like the lines! I think they give my work a more dynamic feel. And Arielle is the perfect subject for this, because she’s all about movement. She wants to do things, to change things, to make things better. She’s a mover and a shaker and this is what I see reflected in this portrait. Aahh! Love it.
Ariel, No. 23, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on paper by Marie Marfia
You may remember Arielle as this skull painting (No. 23 in this series), as well. She’s awesome on the inside, too.
Arielle, No. 86, 100 Portratis in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia
No. 76, 100 Portraits in 100 Days, 6×9″ pastel on mat board with pumice ground by Marie Marfia
There are days when I just don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to paint, I don’t want to do yoga, I don’t want to do my job.
The whole thing just feels overwhelming. So, since I usually can’t skip whatever it is because hey, I’m a grown up and grown ups just carry on, I try to break it down into small, bite-sized pieces.
Today, for instance, I decided not to think about how hard portraits can be, and how much time they take to do, and instead I concentrated on just getting a board ready to paint. Sometimes just doing the stuff that leads up to the painting can help me feel better.
So I found a piece of mat board and cut it to the right size and taped it to my easel. Then I mixed up some acrylic pumice ground with a little water and brushed it on the board. While I let it dry, I opened my photo reference in Photoshop and cropped it and then printed out three references, one black and white, one posterized and one regular.
I took the regular photo reference and made pencil lines on it using a ruler, marking the picture into quarters and then putting lines in for where the eyes were, where the chin and top of the head fell, the edges of the face. I drew plumb lines from the corners of the eyes and the mouth and the nostrils.
When I got that done I decided to go ahead and begin the preliminary sketch using a blue pastel pencil and measuring as I went along. Once that I was done I took a break.
I like to sit and think about the painting and what kind of underpainting I’m going to do, what colors are in the photo, what kind of day it was when I took the picture, what color the light is and what the colors of the shadows should be.
After a little while I get out my pastels and start blocking in the shadows and the lights using the black and white reference. I generally use four values for the underpainting. In this case, I used 4 warm blues for the face and some purples for the background. Then I rub in the color with foam pipe insulation.
After the block in I use the posterized reference to put in some colors over the underpainting, keeping mostly the same values.
Another break and then I taped up the regular photo and began to put color in, trying to marry the sections together and bring what was already there more in line with what I saw in the photo. This is the hardest part and where I’m most likely to have a melt down. The trick is to squint a lot and be patient. Sometimes the painting doesn’t want to cooperate, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own. Those are the best days.
Today was a very good day. I’m glad I painted today.