11 August 2007


Winsor & Newton CP 300 gsm, 14" x 10. 15 min. + 4 hours.

continuing with the portrait work ... i met margaret during my retail errands and after leaving with my purchase and walking to my car i felt an oddly inevitable decision to ask her to model for me. she agreed to start with me the next day.

this drawing is the first life sketch i did of her, after an hour photography shoot to catch the last of the day's light. the first drawing of any session is always clumsy, but the first drawing with a new model is especially difficult; whatever is there is either distorted by misperception or a regurgitated stereotype of face or technique.

typically i either work these drawings into a more finished state, sometimes using a photo of the pose, or (as here) i just use them for color studies. margaret has a gracious and calm manner, and somehow a yellow atmosphere seemed to suit her.

the focus of the painting was deciding how to do her eyes, which are dark, large and penetrating -- like a beam of light -- and the problem is capturing that effect. i used floats of pyrrole orange and phthalo green into burnt umber (scarlet + green = brown).

Winsor & Newton CP 300 gsm, 14" x 10. 15 min. + 5 hours.

this is the second of the three poses i did with her, and now the drawing is pulling together better. i relied on the photo reference to draw her hair, which is a kind of old world braid that must have a name (i don't know it).

this second background is shifted toward a hot gold (cadmium yellow deep with some venetian red), as the background in the first study seemed too cool. the lips are perylene maroon with a touch of quinacridone (for blue), the hair is raw umber and burnt sienna, lifted with an acrylic bright and cooled with a light wash of chromium oxide green. margaret's complexion is basically a creamy tint of the background hue, and unfortunately the image does not reproduce it correctly (the image is too yellow). there is no blue paint anywhere in the image; her pupils are a deep purple.

at first i was negligent of her braid, but as i painted i found it fun to do and a fitting ornament to her face, the shape of her head and the curve of her neck.

it's interesting that facial features modeled faintly, as hers are here, can still convey a feeling for the whole form. chiaroscuro and strong value contrasts are not necessary to give a portrait presence.

1 comment:

Nick said...

a bit of judicious elongation there, or is she really such a swan? beautiful pic!