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!
This one took some work to "create" the scene I was after. I had the pose I wanted from a photo I took of a man reading a racing form at Churchill Downs. However, the pose reminded me of my late grandfather, reading his newspaper at the kitchen table. So I created the scene around the figure and changed the man's appearance to more of my grandfather. To my studio I brought a newspaper, coffee mug, spoon, and magnifying glass. I laid it all out on a table, placing the objects approximately where I wanted them. I added the backlighting and used this as a mock-up of the scene, which is supposed to be more of a booth in a restaurant. It took me several days to draw the beginning outlines of the objects with the figure, getting the sizes and proportions correct, along with the shading and reflections so that the scene comes together as one. As usual, I put extra emphasis and detail on the face and hands painting age spots, veins and wrinkles to express the look I wanted. While those areas had detail, I also wanted to make sure I had some loose, watery passages in the painting, too. The background has some of this but the tabletop reflections allowed me to be more expressive with watery paint, letting it drip right off the paper. The steam from the coffee mug was all about timing. When I painted the booth behing the mug, I had to wait until the paint was almost dry to begin lifting paint back with a damp brush, returning to the white of the paper. I straddled a fine line between creating the soft edges of the steam while keeping its distinct shape.
Started as a demo for my Preston Arts Center class Monday evening, I finished it in my studio. Wax resist crayon (purchased at Preston Arts) was used to creat the lacy, white tree and other speckles of light throughout this painting. Not only did I use the crayon pre-painting to retain whites, but also areas of lighter paint that I wanted to retain when adding darker value paint on top.
This fellow was fully into his role at a Civil War reenactment in Corydon, IN. He certainly looked the part and I found his overall demeanor intriguing. To be truthful, when I saw him, his cigar was not lit--probably because he was using it only as a prop or for safety reasons during the reenactment. However, I felt adding a little smoke would add another dimension to the painting. These performers sacrifice a lot to give back to their communities. On the day I visited Corydon, it had to be at least 90 degrees in blaring sun so blinding you could hardly see. Running through a field with dust and smoke would be difficult under good circumstances. And yet, these re-enactors do it year after year, sometimes, month or week after week, rain or shine. At the end of the day, my daughter, Sara and I heard one cheerful fellow yell to a fellow performer, "I'll shoot you in Menassas!" as a farewell greeting. Got to love that.
A recent commission, these three girls are buddies and like to be close together whether it is in bed or outside under their favorite tree. I worked from photos (both mine and the client's) to create this painting. While this is one of their favorite places to sit, on the day I was there to photograph them, the sunshine wasn't particularly cooperative and the pugs weren't just sitting there posed and waiting for a camera shot! So, I photographed the tree, then took multiple photos of them individually from various angles as they roamed the backyard. The client had a photo of them curled up together in their bed indoors. So, in total, I probably used at least 8 or 10 photos to complete this painting--no easy task. Fortunately, I had my computer hooked up to a large T.V. monitor where I could quickly switch back and forth between photos to get not only their features but a consistent lighting effect. What fun! I felt I really got to know the girls and could see personality and character traits come through in the photos. Not to mention how their wrinkles changed with their expressions! Are you a Pug lover? Fine art prints are available for this painting. Contact me for a print or for an original commission if you would like me to paint one of your favorite puppy! (or cat--we can't leave cats out!)
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.
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 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.
Here I've painted his glasses and started more detail and shadows in the face. The glasses aren't finished. I have small bits of masking fluid I need to remove that show reflections on the metal of the frames.
The start of a new portrait. This is my first layer of color. I will refine and deepen the facial color as I go along and get the beard, clothing and background in. Can't decide what the painting's name should be. Maybe after I work on it a little longer something will come to me. I welcome your suggestions!
This is the finished painting that was started as a workshop demo and was created from a photo. I added more shadow detail to his shirt and added a simple background. I kept the background simplified so that the face area would remain the center of interest. A busy background would be too distracting, however, I did add small splatters and texture to the background just to create interest and a playful atmosphere to the painting. Do you have a favorite photo you would like as a fine art painting? Please contact me for commission information. I would love to create one for you! Remember, watercolors are just as permanent as oils and acrylics and will last many, many, many years. We have centuries old watercolor paintings of the Old Masters and even watercolor paintings on paper in cave dwellings to prove it!