Fun to paint, I began this painting as a demo for my 2-day Portrait Workshop for Kentucky Watercolor Society on Nov 7 and 8th. What a great group and talented, too! Here are a few photos from the attendees hard at work and one with some of their paintings. Aren't they amazing!
This is a demonstration painting completed during one of my portrait workshops. I am happy to complete commissioned portraits. If you have favorite photos, email them to me and I'll let you know which would make the best painting. Pricing is reasonable but is based on size and difficulty of the painting. Please email me for further information!
So after observing my painting in various locations, the background bothered me. I felt it distracted from the subject, taking the eye away from the main interest. My decision was to gradually lesson the distraction by glazing over the background in layers of deep color. I used colors that were the complements of the colors in the subject--Quin. Gold, Dioxizine Violet and Alizarin Crimson. The "straw" is still evident and gives subtle background texture but overall the background is very dark, pushing the subject forward which is what I was looking for.
This painting is created on heavy 300lb Arches watercolor paper and comes with a 100% rag double mat and backing to a 29x32" size, free domestic shipping. Please email me for international shipping charges.
I'm nearly finished but not quite. I've added the horses, darks in the doorways, fences and the left hand side tree in the foreground. It still needs fine tuning. Not enough emphasis is placed on the horses or the light passage through the middle of the painting. On to more painting!
A little further along, I started the foreground and worked some on the roof tops. Again, on the foreground I worked wet into wet. Since I placed so much emphasis on the hillside and made that dominant in the painting, I'll go lighter and simpler in the foreground so they don't compete with one another. I used similar colors as the background but much lighter and with a different dominant color--the background was dominated with blue, the foreground is dominated with yellows and greens.
Started another farm scene today. My goal was to create the distant misty, bluish-violet hillside that is so common in the state of Kentucky. It is difficult to see but the sky actually has a very faint blue opaque tint to give it some weight. I then added the hillside using cobalt blue, green gold, quinacridone gold, and a mixture of viridian green and dioxazine violet. These were dropped in wet into wet to get the blurry look of the trees while still having some definition. I had to work with this, adding and subtracting color at various stages of dampness until I was satisfied with the look and immediately laid it flat so the colors would not run further. Tomorow I tackle the foreground!
This has been the subject of my step-by-step instructional demo on this blog. It has taken about 2 months to complete but I feel it is finally finished. On the last few steps, I deepened color, lifted out straw, toned back straw, added more straw, enhanced color on the face, added texture to small areas on the clothing, added a few darker values, and then came to the conclusion that it is finished. There may be a few tweaks here and there, but not much else. This is the stage where I move it to another room to view it in different lighting and see how it goes.
I hope those of you that have followed along have enjoyed the process and gained some insight as to how I approach a formal watercolor portrait. I certainly have enjoyed this one and am ready for another large project!
Now, all of the background masking fluid has been removed and the "straw" has been toned down some. At the same time, I am continuing to form abstract shapes in the background, deciding value and where to put the shapes to lead the eye into and out of the subject area. Remember, everything I do with paint and color should be to accentuate the main subject. This is not going to be a "straw" or background painting-it will just be there to add interest and accent the subject. You can probably tell by this photo that as I build up the background, I'm also adding color, depth and texture to the face and increasing depth and color in the clothing.
I've taken off some of the masking fluid from the background. This will eventually be the "straw" texture I wanted for interest. This area will be toned back a lot--right now it is very distracting with the bright white of the paper.
Here I begin to paint the folds and shadows in the clothing. Also, darkening the background is starting to give some depth. As I paint the other areas enhancing colors and depth, I look for needed changes and additions to the face. Adding colors and darker values changes the focal area requiring these adjustments in the face. I try to bring the whole painting up to finish at the same time.
I've added the cast shadow on his shoulder. Not only do you see the texture of his beard but his eyeglasses on the edge of the shadow.
Here I am starting to put in the background. The masking fluid covering the straw area is still evident (gray color). I'll make several goes over the background before it is finished. I've also started to place the shadow in the vest. This should have some interest and texture because the edge of his beard is casting a shadow over his vest and shoulder on the left.
Here you can see where I have removed the masking fluid from his eyeglasses and also his eyebrows. I wanted highlights and tonal changes within the eyeglasses and using masking fluid was a way to preserves these small, minute areas.
This photo shows the finish on the glasses. I've toned most of the white areas but left some hightlights and softened them. Here I've also started putting in some darks under his beard and started giving shape to his hat adding by adding a few shadow shapes. Don't forget to go to my Facebook page, Judy Mudd ~ Art and Inspirations, to view larger photos in sequence.
Here I am deepening the shadows on his face. Note that the shadows aren't just darker but are brighter in some areas, especially the eyeglass shadows on his cheeks. These will probably get more before he is finished. I've also started to add a few wrinkles around his eyes and forehead using a slightly warmer and darker skin tone color. As I work on the portrait, at really any point during the process, if I see an area that needs to be corrected I'll lift the color back, reshape the area, let it dry and try again. FYI- check out and "like" my Facebook page, "Judy Mudd ~ Art and Inspirations". I have a photo album labeled "Demo" which has all of these photos in a single album. The photos are much larger where you can see details.
Here I move into the clothing and background. This is just the first layer for both the background and the vest. The background will be much darker once it is finished. The vest will have shadows and folds, buttons will have more definition. On the background, there is supposed to be straw on either side of the subject. I have masking fluid (gray color) over those areas now. Once I'm satisfied with the depth in the background, the masking fluid will be removed and I will work on toning the straw. It will ultimately blend in the background--if it is too busy or too light in value, it will compete with the figure--something I definitely do not want. I just want some interest, some texture that is subtle so the eye moves around, throughout the painting.
Even though I'm not finished with the face, I move into other areas of the painting. I will get all areas of the painting to about 80% competion, then try to bring the whole painting up until it is completely finished. This is where intuition comes in and I need to move more slowly, making adjustments and additions until I am satisfied with the results.
Beginning work on the eyes and ear. In my photo reference, the eyes are almost completely dark and black because they are in shadow and the camera doesn't reproduce darks and shadows well. I'm having to compensate for that. I know, if the man were sitting in front of me under the same lighting conditions, I would still be able to distinguish some shapes, colors and form. However, the whites of the eyes will eventually be painted darker than I have them here, They are in shadow just not as dark as the photo represents.
Here I am starting the shadow areas of the face.
This is the "atmospheric landscape" demo I painted on Saturday at Preston Arts Center. I wanted to show how weather conditions, time of day, and aerial perspective all factor in when creating an atmospheric landscape. Remember, we don't just want to paint a landscape but express mood and feelings about the subject, too. I wanted to express the quiet serenity of the early morning in a rural setting. Here, I demonstrated the need for 1) soft edges, especially in the distant hills 2) value shifts (light, mid-tones and darks), moving from the background to foreground, and 3) color shifts, creating aerial perspective along with different land planes. Watercolor is a perfect medium to use in showing moist air conditions (moist = water, right?). You can let it run and move and it almost (almost) makes clouds, fog and dewy grasses on its own. I could have painted longer on this painting but this is the product of the demo that time allowed. To critique this, as I see it now, I think I could have gone even stronger in color and value in the foreground. I'm letting color shifts tell the story of distance, but value could have been used more, too. I couldn't have gone in too much stronger with value because it would have taken away from the overall message, but I think maybe one step down in value in the front would have worked well. Even without additional work, overall I'm pleased with the feeling of the painting and I think it says "serenity."
I use my iPad (the first generation--it's two years old) for reference material in drawing and painting, not only in the studio but also in classes and in travel. Here my reference photo is in the app " Digital View Catcher." It allows me to use a grid for drawing out the subject which is marvelous for street scenes when you are trying to get all of the angles placed correctly (roof tops, windows, car tops, car bottoms--all of them drawn toward a vanishing point. In DVC, you can change the grid color, pattern and line width so you can adjust it to the photo you are drawing. I have found this to be an invaluable tool.
This is what I used for the "Ohio on Fourth Street" paintings.