Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Tree

A couple of years ago we visited Bradgate Park near Leicester for a day trip. It couldn't have been a nicer day weatherwise, as it was warm and sunny with lovely blue sky and a smattering of light fluffy clouds and those impressive, high stratus clouds which look as if they have been lightly dragged across the sky by some giant comb. The park is very open, scattered with trees and lots of bracken through which were wide grassy walkways. It was along one of these walkways that a certain tree took my eye. A very knobbly tree with a huge squat trunk and twisted branches. It was just magnificent to see it standing there on its own, sweltering in the heat of the sun and casting a huge shadow across the grassy heath.

I took a photo, which I have loosely tried to paint here. It's no great painting, but at least it's taken me away from portraiture for a spell and reminded me that I do have to put a lot more practice in when it comes to landscapes! The sky is OK and so is the tree trunk though I'm not so sure about the foliage. Oh, and will someone please tell me how to paint more realistic looking grass?

Oh well, a masterpiece will have to wait for another day I guess.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Acey Thompson

I think this is the last watercolour portrait I want to do for a while, as my other painting projects are falling way behind now. Anyway, this is Acey Thompson - my latest work for JK's portrait party on Flickr. I've done her as a WIP here.

In the first picture you can see that I've laid down the first wash for skin tones, eyes and lips. All the edges of this layer were softened, as this is a beautiful young lady and I wanted to keep the complexion fairly soft.
In the second picture, I've added another skin tone layer and extra darkening in the shaded area of the face. The lips to have been darken and shaped, as have the pupils and eyes.
In the last picture, it is all brought together by the addition of hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, as well as the dress. Like most people, I do find it difficult to know when to stop - there's nothing worse than fiddling with a painting, but examination of the photo and checking your work, there is always that little bit of detail that is begging to be attended to, but it has to be small at this stage, as there is a very real danger of overworking it.

I'm really pleased with the likeness on this one - I think my freehand drawing has come along in leaps and bounds over recent months, but I am not happy with the hair - I'm pretty useless with hair for some reason. Maybe one day I will crack it. You can see the source photo here:
Acey Thompson
If you want to comment on this work, say what you think and don't worry if it is criticism , as I do not offend so easily these days!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Painting for a Cause

Both my wife and my daughter-in-law will be celebrating a birthday this Sunday, and of course the same old question crops up "What on earth shall I buy for a present"! Well I managed to come up with something for my wife - eventually, and it came through the post this morning with just two days to go.
As for my daughter-in-law, I'd been thinking for some time before I thought "Why don't I do her a painting?". I mean, I've been doing quite a lot these past few months and my style and technique has improved a lot (I think?), so what shall I paint? A portrait of the two grandchildren would be nice, but I've got to get a reasonably good likeness, otherwise my offering would likely be tossed in the bin the moment my back is turned!

With only a few days to go, I set about the work. A couple of hours saw the drawings finished, and two or three more saw the paintings done. I was reasonably pleased with the likeness for Thomas, who's eyes I turned downwards a little as he was looking up in the photo, but William's proved more tricky. The lips, nose and eyes just didn't look right, so my best (and most honest) critic - my wife - helped me pinpoint the errors somewhat. While not being able to draw herself, she has a keen eye for detail and a remarkable knack of seeing where the lines are going wrong. Just for good measure, I took the painting along to art class for my tutor to look at too, and she came up with much the same advice as my wife.

With a little bit of 'lifting off' and trimming and shading here and there, the likeness improved somewhat, though some things still niggle me a little.

So that's it then, framed and all wrapped ready to go on Sunday. I just hopes she likes it, and it doesn't get consigned to the back of the cupboard or top shelf gathering dust!