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I'm a professional award winning Portrait artist from NSW Australia.

Not just a likeness- portraits with Life!
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brian's portrait - Homeward Bound continued

Last post I'd got Brian's portrait to this stage. Much as I loved the yellow water it couldn't stay as it was drawing your attention away from Brian's face. I also wanted it to be the end of a stormy day and have some atmosphere. I wanted to capture the mood of the day.

I haven't done a lot more to Brian's face since this photo - maybe added a little colour in the following stages. I am now just setting the stage to get the atmospheres I want and bringing the rest of the portrait up to the same standard of finish as his face.
Remember I did his face almost to completion as I didn't want to be chasing a likeness at the last minute. In retrospect I'm not sure that was the right way to go as it made the rest of the painting harder but it's all finished now..

Here is the original photo that inspired me. The painting is going in a portrait exhibition so although I like this photo I needed to show more of Brian's face without the hat and sunnies. 
I told him the portrait wouldn't be the most flattering .lol's 
I wanted to get the feeling of a long day and the weather worn sailor. 
As I said earlier if the portrait was a commission I would have made Brian look even better than in his photo!
  I used 5 different photos to come up with this painting. One for Brian's face , another few for his jacket , another for the background , several for for the lighting on the water and more for details etc.


Below- One of the photos I used for his wetgear-  I changed the colours a little. Sorry Brian - a very unflattering photo!

 Below - I've done some more finishing on his rain jacket and started on the lighting on the water. I've also done a bit more work on the steelwork of the boat.

Below-  A bit further along.
 I've got the overall scene and background as I wanted but felt we needed something more on the LHS of the painting so I started to paint the mainsheet ropes and blocks in. Beforehand I spent a couple of hours in photoshop playing around to come up with an idea without actually painting on the painting.
I'm still not 100% sure but I've started. It better work or I'll have a big repaint of all the sky and body it is covering..
Boy I'm leaving it late. I have to deliver it 'dry' before Friday..!

Below - Here it is with the rigging finished.
I quite liked this effect with him behind the rigging as I felt it gave a more 3 D effect but the diagonal rope was distracting so I removed it. Luckily it was still wet so with a wet turpsy rag I managed to wipe off several hours work..sigh..The under layers were dry enough not to come off.


Finally - finished - I think.. I added extra highlights on the RHS of his jacket where the sun would have hit it and put the other side in shadow. In reality it was overcast when the photos were taken so I had to use a bit of artistic liscense!

 Homeward bound
 46 x 60cms 
Oil on gallery wrap canvas

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flambuoyant Francis our Monday model

 Flambouyant Francis
c 30 x 40cms image
Oil on canvas
Yesterday we had a lovely lady as our model at portraits. She was elderly but looked fantastic and is an actress and singer. you could tell as she gave us a lovely pose and held it beautifully.
She describes herself as flambouyant Francis..We have another male artist in the group who is also an actor and singer ( they didn't know each other) and he gave us a rendition of Danny Boy in his tenor voice and Francis joined in for a lovely duet. A lovely way to end the session!

Although it's only a relatively unfinished quick study I feel I have captured something of her personality and lovely translucent skin..My skin won't look like that when I reach her age! Too much sun..

Monday, March 17, 2014

The life of Brian - My portrait for the portrait painters Hunter 2014 exhibition

For this years exhibition we have to paint someone of note.  Brian has retired but was

Foundation Professor of Social Work, University of Newcastle 1990 to 2005; Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University  1997 to 2005.

He is a published nature and documentary photographer.

Brian came along as a model for one of our sessions. Here is my unfinished 2.30hr practise portrait of him. 
30 x 40cms Oil on canvas

 I was looking for someone to paint and when  I heard he was a sailor and had sailed around Australia and was soon to sail around Cape Horn I was inspired to ask him if he would agree to let me paint him.
He was happy to be a subject. My partner had just bought a boat in Pittwater near Sydney and we were looking for someone to help us sail the boat back to Lake Macquarie. Brian was keen so I took this opportunity to take some photos of him helming. I had already taken some inside the yacht club but wanted some more natural ones so this was ideal. My portrait is a combination of about 5 different photos.
 I started with another idea at first or at least another face. I was going to place the most animated face I had taken at the yacht club on one of his body helming from the trip home. Although this option would have been more flattering I  decided I would use another photo of his face taken on the trip. Here he is more wind swept and in the sun and it would better create the atmosphere I was after . 
 The painting isn't a commissioned portrait just one I am doing for myself.
If it was a commissioned portrait we would choose the most flattering photo! I have also exaggerated the character lines on his face in this painting. In a commissioned portrait I generally subdue these.

 Here you can see my first choice with his animated face from the yacht club photos on a photo of him helming on the way home. I've placed a rough grid on the canvas just to make sure I don't end up placing him too far to one side.

 I was short of time so quickly under painted the portrait ready to start as the Art Bazaar demo.I usually spend a long time planning something like this but didn't have enough time so leapt in!

I decided on the new face the night before the bazaar. Here is the portrait at the Art Bazaar with the complementary ( opposite colour) underpainting in acrylic and a rough face from the new photo.


Below- I'm starting to come back over with Oil colours in the correct colours. 
The idea is to leave a little of the under colour to peek through to make the colours vibrate a little and make the portrait more interesting and colourful.
The hard part is not covering it all up!
Here I have started on his jacket. I realised after I started that he has 2 jackets - a lightweight and a heavy weight. I ended up combining features from both for the best colour and effect. 

Below- I have roughly covered all his wetgear and it is the correct colour.

 This gives you an idea how large the portrait is. The sun was shining on half of it by now which makes taking decent photo hard. This is how much I got done at the Art Bazaar demo.

Back in the studio I take the time to get a better likeness in the blue under painting.
The wet paint has sheen on it so it is hard to take photos.
 Below is what the painting looks like at this stage.

Now for the scary part!
 As soon as I start putting the Oil colours over I lose the likeness and it goes through the ugly stage-ugh! 
Very demoralising- time to resist frisbeeing it across the room and just hang in there until it starts to look better! lol's

Time to put some sunlit highlights on his face..

 Phew .. starting to come good.I'm quite excited at this point!
Getting there!
 I'm pretty happy with his face- not quite finished a bit of tweaking necessary here and there but I'll come back at the end for that.
I need to cover the yellow in the water - It's a pity to lose the colour but it is distracting you from Brian's face and I need the water to be darker as I am planning to put some sunlit .
splashes on it.
 A lot more work to go. Refine his jacket and get some sunlight on it, do his hands and the boat railings etc and generally bring it all together.
 I'd usually work all over the painting at once and do finish his face at the end but I only have 3 weeks to complete the painting so I thought I'd get the likeness first so I won't be stressed trying to get that at the last moment.

To be continued!