The project I am currently working on is a pair of portraits of twins. They are part of a larger portrait project of a sibling group and the previous ones have appeared earlier on this blog. All the works share the same dimensions and scale and they all include meaningful items and settings from the family’s home.
Today I have the first twin to show and the next and final portrait in the group will be complete and posted here in May.
The very beginning stages of work on these two I did simultaneously including the initial drawings on paper.
I use photographs to paint my portraits from but I never paint from a single photo. I design the images from many pictures first composing on the computer and then om paper in the form of a drawing on paper. This stage is always very important and there is a good amount of invention and creativity as I get the structure of the design just right. In these pieces this stage was especially important as we had decided upon doing a mirror image of the girls. They were photographed on either side of a symmetrical buffet cupboard but I did much work to make”mirror” quality of the setting just right which hadn’t appeared so in the photos. The work included tacking string on the wall across the room from my easel to follow the perspective lines.
I stayed working on the two as I began the finished pieces. Here you can see I had both on the easel as I transferred the images by grid onto the boards and began the underpainting.
Once a fair amount of paint was started and I felt confident they would match enough. I decided to give all of my attention to one until it was done.
So here then are images of the first one in progress. It follows my usual working process except that this time I used clear gesso. I have been enjoying working on coloured grounds recently and so began this way.
The initial study on paper…
Then details of the drawing transferred to the board. I do this all by hand with French curves and rulers with graphite on one coat and then another coast of gesso on top.
My painting process is one of many layers painted on top of each other with areas of all application of paint from glazed colour through to very opaque scumbled texture. The very first underpainting has some form to it but is quite flat compared to later stages will add form and light.
Here the work develops over a few “layers” of paint…
Eventually over many weeks of work the image arrives at a point where everything is finished. As any painter knows there are hundreds of details to refine and the last stages can go on for some time. I know a piece is finished when not another mark I could do will truly make a difference, the likeness is perfect, the surface is rich and satisfying with colour and texture and when, finally, when there is a breath of life enters and inhabits the work.
I did go to art school but was not trained to paint portraits or to paint realistically and have learned by looking at other painters, reading books, by trial and error and instinct so there may be faster ways of getting to this end but I haven’t found them.
And now the finished work…
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I will be back next moth with the next one.