Monday, February 21, 2011
I don't know how she did it, but somehow my sister weaseled me into painting a portrait of her as a child this Christmas. In actuality, she commissioned me to paint it as a Christmas gift to herself, but how she got me to agree, I'll never know. Man, she's good. I think she must have asked me just after Halloween before the holiday rush when I was feeling all ambitious...and naive. (Don't anyone get any ideas. I'm not planning on making a habit of painting portraits. Just too intense at this point in my life.)
In all honesty, I have never painted a portrait before this one. I've drawn a few self-portraits for assignments back in college, but that's about it. I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed to do this. I haven't really painted in years. (The super simple paintings I've done for Liam's room don't count.)
I'm glad I did though. It pushed me, and was actually a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoy painting. Plus, I never get to spend any time by myself, completely alone. Even in the bathroom, someone is always walking in on me yelling, "MOOOOMMM!" so being able to sit in the back room by myself for hours on end was refreshing, but like I said, not something I want to get into the habit of doing. It'll have to wait until the kids are all in school. (BIG thank you to Will who entertained the kids while I painted. This ended up being as much of a present from my family as it was from me. It was quite the marathon to finish it in the end, but I knew if I didn't give myself a deadline it would end up in the bottomless pit of unfinished projects at my house.)
More than anything, I'm glad I did it because now I'm not afraid to do it again. I've always wanted to paint portraits of my children, but never thought it was even plausible. This one definitely has it's issues that I'd rather not talk about, but it was my first and I look forward to painting more in the future and improving.
More about the painting process after the jump.
Here's a quick look at the process:
First, I copied, enlarged, and cropped the photo to the correct dimensions. I then used a grid system to draw the main features on the canvas. You can see my black and white gridded copy in the corner of the picture with the canvas.
Then, I began to paint the face, beginning with the area surrounding the eyes and working my way out. I relied heavily on the instructions given in this book. It was invaluable as I painted my first portrait. It really breaks down the process. If you have a bit of a painting background, I highly recommend it.
At this point, Liam took one look at the painting and said, "Uh, Mom, it looks really weird." My brother called it the demon painting.
I finished the rest of the face and moved on to the background and hair, then finally the dress following the instructions in the book.
You may notice that I omitted the hands and changed the background to a flat black. Part of that was to speed up the process; part of that was to match the portrait of my brother-in-law painted by his grandmother. My sister wanted a matched set. I'm no where near as skilled as she was, but they don't look too bad together in my sister's front hall.