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Monday, May 30, 2016

The creation of Amanda and Ringo's portrait

Amanda was after a portrait that was a bit different. She explained that other than when they are at the track greyhounds are really quite  sedentary. She wanted something that showed Ringo's enthusiasm for running with his tongue hanging out and ears flapping.
 I went to the training track and set myself up inside to take photos of Ringo as he raced past.
 It wasn't easy! He was great and obliged by doing his part well  speeding back and forth as asked but the track is only c 10' wide and he was flying! Even on sports setting he was just a flash.  I took 100's of photo and some video.
After looking through heaps of photos I decided that one with Amanda in it had promise and the scope to come up with an interesting portrait. Amanda was a bit shy about being in the portrait and really wanted Ringo to be the star so I used a style that suggested her more and made Ringo the focus.

 Amanda and Ringo
 c 60 x 70cms framed size
 Custom framed oil

The original photo

The chosen reference photo  has potential but it's blurry and is an unflattering photo of Amanda. Still I like the way they are both having fun and are focused on each other. I feel we can capture the feel of their connection and the  day using  this one as the concept.

After playing around in photo shop to get rid of a lot of wasted space and make Ringo the star I came up with this idea. This stage often takes a long time but is the most important.
It doesn't matter how good you are as an artist without a good design and idea the portrait will never reach it's potential.
 I've also used some new more flattering closeup photos of Amanda's face. It's not the sharpest reference photos but I had good closeups of Ringo's head at a similar angle to help me.
Luckily I had taken lots of photos including head shots and closeup full body ones so we had a range of options to refer to.

  I wanted the portrait to be colourful and have impact. There wasn't much scope to change much with Amanda or Ringo so I upped the colours of the landscape so the portrait would still look realistic but have oomph!
 Amanda's face reference- the top one was mostly for the angle of the light on her clothes - I ended up toning down the shadow on her face as it just didn't look right.

 Clear shot to help me. I wanted Amanda to be secondary to Ringo but still a good likeness- just a little more expressionistic or suggested.

Below- early stages with the underpainting in acrylic.

Starting to paint the details in the under painting.

 Starting on the oil- Ringo roughly done.
 It's a largish portrait ( 40 x 50cms) so it take a while to have it all start to come together. The whole portrait needs to be roughly covered with Oil paint so I can start to compare things and refine and bring it all together.

 I usually start with the dark tones then the middle tones then the light bits last. 

Starting on Amanda's face in Oil.

 Amanda roughly done in Oil.
Below - - not the best photo due to sheen on the painting due to it being wet. Here I'm introducing some bright colours in the ground to give impact and depth - oranges and yellow come forward while blues and greens recede. This use of colour helps make the painting more 3D than a photo.

Below-  More finished off - extra shades of green in the trees and foreground finished a bit more. I still have to  finish Amanda's face and there is still a long way to go  but I can see how things are going.

 Amanda's face a little more finished - I ended up refining her face more  but not a bad start - nice and suggested but still getting a likeness and happy expression.

 Roughly completed along with the poop bag! 
I ended up deciding the painting needed a bit more colour on Amanda to bring it all together . I changed the lead to red to tie it in with the rest of the portrait.  I checked with Amanda and she didn't mind.

 Here you can see some of the extra photos I used to help. 
A portrait like this is quite complicated and takes a lot longer to create but it gives you the best portrait!
 It's a lot harder for me as I don't have one photo to refer to and check I have a good likeness.

In the later stages I added more subtle reds in the background to brighten the portrait and tie it all in. I decided Ringo's front legs were too short so I lengthened them, changed the colour of the lead and did many other tweaks.

 Amanda now has a great record of her happy days with Ringo at the track. Something to treasure long after he's gone!

 The finished framed portrait showing you the size.
 Detail - it's hard for photos to show the impact of larger portraits. Your eyes can take in the details but  a photo taken far enough away to get the whole portrait loses the effect .

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