Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Long Road Traveled (The Preacher) - A Portrait

With almost 20 hours on this portrait, I think I've reached an end.   It's on canvas taped to a board, so in a few days...maybe this weekend, I'll decide on a final size and stretch it.  I wouldn't be surprised if I find a few more things to tweak, but for now, I'm done. Time to sign it. 

If you love to paint portraits, this is the kind of subject you wait and wait for. What a wonderful face.   In the high quality photo reference that I used, the colors in this gentleman's skin are amazing.  There are golds and reds and oranges and the highlights are amazing blues.  The biggest challenge is not to get too caught up in all that wonderful color and let the painting become a patchwork quilt- beautiful but not unified.  That wasn't easy.  The other issue for me was maintaining the overall darkness of the face, even though on close examination so much of it is beautiful bold color.  I used a lot of what I learned from Suchitra Boshle on the control of values and I think it helped.  (  Although I've only had a few sessions with Suchitra, I've become acutely aware of values in portrait painting, thanks to her instruction and example.  I've drawn on another teacher, Dan Edmondson, as well.  (  All through this painting, Dan's admonition to "Make beautiful brushstrokes" has been constantly in mind.  I've resisted smoothing and 'licking' - as much as I can! - and instead I've consciously struggled to maintain brush strokes by mixing a color, applying it and leaving it alone.   I'm trying Dan, I'm trying!

But above all I hope I have captured the warm and gentle spirit of this man that shines through in the photo reference...

Here's the final portrait....(The whites behind the head slightly to the left are not there....I continue tos stuggle to get faithful photographs. sigh) 
A Long Road Traveled   Oil on linen   20 x 16 approx. 

Below are some notes and a picture of The Preacher in progress.
At that point I've got about 12 - 15 hours in it:

I'm nearing the end, but I'd like to let it sit and set-up for awhile before I make the final finishing strokes.  I'll add highlights to the crown of the head and a few other spots like the bridge of the nose.  It's amazing how that can add dimension and life to a portrait.  It's also amazing how easy it is to overdo it and mess up the whole thing!  I can see that the tip of the nose needs more modeling so I'll spend some time there.  I may also continue to tweak the background a bit.  Generally I'll drag it into the head to lose edges here and there, but perhaps not in this painting. In fact, I may try to push the background away to make the head come forward, increasing the three dimensional effect. Finally, stepping away for a bit and looking at photographs of the painting is a great way to see drawing errors and areas that need more work.  But it's almost complete so I'd though I'd show a WIP (work in progress) photo.  (Not to mention that I need something to POST!) 
The Preacher WIP  oil on linen approx. 20 x 16

and here is my oil sketch 'block in'

The Preacher  WIP  Initial Block In  Oil on linen

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

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