Hey everyone! i painted a portrait yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was a request. i don’t think i would have done it otherwise. But i ended up having the most lovely afternoon/evening working on it. It was so relaxing and fun. I instagrammed the progress and thought i’d recap here on the blog.
Step 1: printout some photos of the subject (Frida Kahlo) that i found online so i could make a pencil sketch right on the canvas. i always start by drawing the overall face shape, then mapping in a center line and eyeline. Scribbling in the decorative elements quickly is the best way i know how to come up with a balanced composition, even if i don’t follow them EXACTLY in the painting stage.
Step 2: Begin painting in large solid areas. i start with the part of the painting that is most challenging. That way, if i stink it up, i haven’t wasted any time on easy parts i could do again without problem. In this case, i started in on the face and hair, then worked in some background.
Step 3: Finish with the fun details. i saved the floral headpiece, jewelry, clothing and background doodles for last because to me, those are low-stress, easy fun. i’m not worried about symmetry and shading like with the face. i took the painting off the easel and laid it flat for the background swirls so i could turn the canvas as i worked. This part took a while, but was very relaxing. Near the end, my patience was wearing thin and i just wanted to see it complete!
Step 4: Final Scanning and Digital Editing. When i started this, i had an image of lots of floral layers, very decorative. By the time i got as far as step 3, i was a bit tired and had that “temporary art blindness” we all get. i felt i couldn’t be objective about whether or not to add the flowers to the sides, all around, or what. SO!! i cheated. i scanned in what i had and messed with extra flower placement digitally. This way, i didn’t potentially ruin my hours of work, but could still play and work toward the vision in my head without fear.
After some hours away from it to get “fresh eyes”, i reviewed and made a few tiny tweaks this morning, then sent it off for a client to review.
Standard, classic, oil portraits may not be my “thing”, but i sure did love doing this highly stylized portrait with all the fun decoration. Hope you all enjoy! xo, s