Monday, July 25, 2011

Painting: Portrait of two children

Portrait of Two Children
24" x 36" 
Acrylic on Canvas
(Original source photo by Vanessa Day, photographer extraordinaire and a good friend of mine)

This painting has been such a challenge and a reward, and I'll be honest, some of the best portraiture I've done in a while. (Not being said in a self satisfied way, more of a half surprised tone of voice considering that I haven't been as prolific as years past)

I started this painting off really strongly, got the base painting layers down in one wonderful day of loud music and alone time. Had most major issues figure out at that point. Now normally, I just keep going, fueling myself on the little victories and the build up of progress until I complete the entire piece. I have no problem painting for hours on end, listening to the same album to keep the progress going.

This time was different. I got the base layers down and then life kind of exploded into a juggling act of my job, my family, training for a race and preparing for Africa. The painting sat. First on my easel, then relegated to the less visible spot beside my couch (so it wouldn't keep making me feel guilty) I knew that I still had some major questions of "how am I going to visually resolve this" to answer and some of those potential answers were not there yet or I knew would take an investment of a chunk of time I knew I did not possess in a large enough block to keep momentum going. So it sat.

I wasn't forgotten and it wasn't being completely neglected. Often when I'm puzzling through those questions, I'm working on other, smaller pieces and things that happen in those pieces answer the questions in bigger pieces. That was the case with this work. I kept doing painting and overwrites in my head for many weeks.

I had set aside my first weeks of summer to tackle this finally and when the first session came, I was surprised at how easily I fell back into the engagement level I had in the base layers. I hit some frustrations on problem solving that I had not anticipated. In a moment of frustration, I laid down some thin washes of off white to tone the entire piece and unify it somewhat (this is a veeeeeeeeery old style for me to work with, one that I had abandoned for many years) and I was surprised at how that one irritated move unlocked the entire painting. It fueled the fire to keep moving.

Anyways, I'm pleased with this piece. It was a reminder of why I love, love, love portraiture. Thanks also to Vanessa for the source photo - that was such a treat to work from. My source photos are usually terrible.


Joanne said...

OOOOOOO Michelle, I love this one! The skin tones are great, and the hair on the girls is fantastic. Wonderful to see you back here, and producing such wonderful pieces. ♥

Anonymous said...

Oh my God! I really think that's fantastic!
I love all your paintings, and i love painting too :)
I'm gald to have found your nice blog!
Hope you keep drawing&paintig, girl, because you do it perfectly! Continue like this please.. :)

A lot of kisses! ♥