I am not a portraitist. I don’t see it in my future either – but when I invited fans to submit photos of their children for me to paint I received some photos that focused a lot on the children’s faces.
The photos presented some challenges – how to improve on beautifully taken photos, and how does a non portraitist do a face when a face is all there is to do?
My answer – three different versions and two attempts later.
Version one – I kept seeing an old lady. The colours were too dark. Looking back I was trying to make the painting match a previous painting and just got lost. I imposed too many ideas that weren’t really part of the photo. I also found it difficult to connect to the photo.
After looking at the first painting I realized the colours needed to be lighter and more childlike. I made the choice to open this painting up to be what it needed to be. I simplified my paint palette to three colours and the colour mixes they made. The original photo got transformed into a black and white reference image and I also eliminated some lines in the face.
A night’s sleep and a camera gave me fresh eyes for the second painting and I made some small colour adjustments – toning down some whites that I thought were too harsh and removing some out of place dark pink. In the end I think I did ok. I can leave this painting and move on, being reminded of some things I already knew (simple colour palettes are best for me) and working out how to create a face in paint.
What do you think? Was it successful? Do you see a toddler’s face or is she older than that in this photo?