Friday, March 11, 2011

New Painting of My Son Ryan

This is where I ended up today.  See more images below to see how I got this far.

Aloha everyone and thank you for visiting my blog!

I am working on several new paintings currently, but I have chosen this one to blog about. It has nothing to do with the South Pacific or Hawaii. It is not a place, but it is a special person in my life. It is a portrait of my son Ryan who is now 17 years old, however, I took this picture of him when he was about 3 years old. I love this picture of him.

I am currently teaching people portraits in one of my art classes and I thought I really need to do this painting of my son. This image has been pulling me for awhile.

I also miss my son who is away living at a US military camp attending a 5 month long high school program. What a great experience for him. I am proud of how focused he is and his great attitude. He is motivated to do something good with his life. As a mother we all wish for our children to grow up and contribute to society in a positive way.  He does make me proud.  He is a wonderful young man. Okay enough personal stories, but this is another reason I felt it is time to paint him, plus I am sharing the progress of this painting with him via snail mail.  I like to kill 2 birds with one stone whenever possible.

I started with a white canvas measuring 11”x14.” It is gallery wrap canvas so I will paint the edges. With a gallery wrap canvas there is no need to purchase a frame, it is optional. By the way, I try and use canvases that are the same size as standard frames. Meaning you can buy frames already made to fit your canvas.  It cost a lot less money versus having a custom frame made. I also paint a lot so it is good to be able to switch my same size paintings in and out of frames that I already own.

(You can click on the images to see the image enlarged)

Step one; I paint the canvas with grey gesso. This dries quickly. I then scan in the image of my original photograph. I do not want to mark up my original photo. Plus it makes my life easier to do grid method if I crop and size a new version of this photo to better fit the 11”x14” canvas. If you divide 11” by 2 you get 5.5” and if you divide 14” by 2 you get 7”. I crop and size my scanned image to fit this dimension exactly. So the printed picture measures 5.5”x7.” I draw lines using my T-square on the canvas and make 2” squares horizontal and vertical. On my photocopy I make similar lines or squares in 1” marks. This is half the size of the canvas. The canvas and photocopy now have the same number of boxes. I number the boxes on the canvas and on the photo. I then draw my image with a number 2 pencil (lightly) to match what I see on my photocopy (do not use charcoal pencil it smears in your paint).  I find this to be a very quick and accurate way to get my image on the canvas. It also helps improves ones drawing skill.
 I have done portraits with straight color but I do prefer starting in gray tones. I find it easier to correct my drawing as I go along and it helps me see the values of light, medium and dark. This is a good exercise to strengthen ones artistic eye to see values. I also think it is cool to see your painting come alive like a black and white photograph. Flesh tones are a little more challenging so starting in black and white lays down a foundation to place the color on top of later.

I see some errors in my initial drawing and my gray scale painting. I fix the angle of his ear and the front of his face needs adjusting. I shrink the chin and lips. I do this with more gray/white paint but I also shrink the features of the face with yellow paint that I am thinking will be my sky color, however, I will probably tone it down or make it another color entirely.

I often times use my paint brush or ruler as a sighting tool to compare angles from my photograph to the painting itself. You can catch mistakes this way.

In all I took about 2.5 hours.

I will blog once a week until this painting is complete.

Kathy McCartney

Artist and Art Teacher