Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Soldier WIP 4

I had to take a break from working on this piece due to humidity. I didn't want it to get ruined, so I put it aside, sealed up in plastic, until the humidity went down. I am determined to get this finished ASAP. Not only because I want this young soldier's parents to get it, but I need to get it done before the humidity sets in here for the summer. I have been blessed so far with cool fronts coming through (with the exception of a few days last week). Oh, and we had a daughter and her family come up from Texas to visit and to see my husband's ordination ceremony. So, I've had a very busy week, but everyone's gone now and I can concentrate on getting this finished.

Remember as you look at this, nothing is finished yet. It's on sanded paper, so it looks rough in some areas, and the colors are not all smoothly blended yet. The young man's face will also lighten up as I put in the dark background too.

I opted to make his forehead darker than in the photo, but not as dark as the rest of his face. I don't want it to be totally unrealistic.

You'll notice I am leaving the eyes and mouth for last. Usually I do these areas first, but in this case, these areas in the photo are not clear. They are a bit blurry, so it's hard to see the exact shapes and details. I hope I can get them right.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pencils & Colors for the Soldier Portrait

It was brought to my attention that I did not show, nor did I tell you what kind of pencils I am using on my soldier portrait. So, here is a photo of a couple of the pencils.

You can't tell from the photo very well, but I'm using Prismacolors and Derwent Coloursofts. I'm really only using the Coloursofts for the background (mixed with the prismas), and only the Prismas for the actual portrait part. I'm showing in the photo above, two of my favorite Coloursoft colors: Mid Brown and Brown Earth. The Coloursofts have wonderful browns!!!!

The colors I've used so for the background are (not in this order):
Brown EarTh
Mid Brown
Pale Brown

Derwent Studio
Burnt Yellow Ochre
Golden Brown

Dark Brown
Dark Umber

I will be adding additional colors as I continue on with the background.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Soldier Portrait WIP 3 - Blending Lesson

I told you I would show you how I blend my colors on Colourfix paper, so here goes. I apologize for the color and lighting in the photos. It's a cloudy day and I didn't have much natural light when I took the photos.

Okay, I'm working some more on the background. This first photo is after I added five light layers of various colors onto the colourfix surface. You can still see a lot of tooth. As a matter of fact, it doesn't look like I've added that much color at all, but five layers is enough to start the blending process. Just be sure not to start your blending with the brush too early. It won't work if you have only a couple of layers of color on the paper.

Now, I've blended gently with a bristle brush. Actually, I got carried away and added a few more layers of color and then blended again, then I remembered that I forgot to take a photo as I went. So, I will do another section so you can see step by step how I do it.
All right, I'm back at five light layers of color on a new section of the paper. Again, you can see how much tooth is visible.

Now I blend the colors gently into the paper. If you aren't gently, you can use up the tooth faster, so be careful. Now, this stage looks pretty bad, but that's okay.

Now, I add about five more layers of color on top of the blended area. I'm trying to get a smooth transition as well as slowly lighten the background making it gradient. Here are the colors added on top of the blended section before blending the second time.

It just occurred to me that I have not shown you the kind of brush I use for blending. There are two kinds I use. One is a stencil brush. They come in several sizes and I get them all. In this case, I am using an inexpensive bristle brush. It cost me $1.00. You don't need anything expensive because you'll be abusing the blazes out of the brush and it will only last a little while before you have to throw it away and replace it with another one. Here's the brush:

Usually, I trim the tip of the brush a little shorter than it is when I purchase it. This helps with the blending process, however, make sure you don't trim it too short! It will be harsher on the paper and will brush all of the color OFF of pastelbord and colourfix paper instead of blending it into the tooth. You'll have to trim loose hairs every now and then as well.

Be sure to only use the brush on one color at a time. This is important because you don't want to mix colors! Look back at the color on this brush. If I went and used the brush to blend the soldier's face, what do you think would happen to the color of his skin????? That's why I have MANY brushes of all sizes. I probably use five of them on each piece.

One final note on the brushes: They are washable!!! Just wash them in your sink with regular soap, rinse them out real well, and dry them on a paper towel. Darker colors such as black or dark umber will stain the brush, but if you have thoroughly washed it with soap & water, you can use it on any color the next time, even skin tones.

Okay, back to the painting. here is the painting after blending yet again, very gently, the additional layers of color. I can still add many more layers and blend more if necessary to smoothly blend the colors together so they transition gradually, not abruptly.

And here is that entire section finished. I wish you could better see the colors as they very gradually transition to a lighter color. I guess you'll have to take my word for it until I can get a cooperative day with sufficient sunlight to take a good photo.

If anyone has any questions about this lesson, please just ask and I will try to answer your questions as best as I can.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Soldier Portrait WIP 2

UPDATE: Here is an updated pic of this young man's portrait. His skin looks a little rough but it will be smooth out as I go along. Nothing is finished in this portrait at all yet! I'm still getting the basic layers down and starting the blending process. Also, this pic is a bit darker than it is in real life. I just noticed that. Sorry.

Now, the decision I have to make is whether or not to remain true to the photo and make his forehead as light in color as it is in the photo. In reality, this young man's forehead is very light colored because it has not been exposed to the desert sun as the rest of his face has been. I would rather make it all evened out and not such a drastic change in color. However, his natural skin tone is, in actuality, quite light. So, I have a few things to think about and work out.

I'm using my brush method to blend the colors and smooth out the painting. This method has worked wonderfully for my paintings on Art Spectrum Colourfix paper, but thus far it's been a bit harder to get as smooth a look on Pastelbord (I'll post examples of those at a later date). I'll see if I can get a close up soon of how I use the brush to blend the colors so you can see what I am talking about. It's a great technique that I love to use, but it must be used carefully so you don't fill up the tooth of the paper.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Soldier Portrait WIP 1

IPWell, look at that. It's been almost a month since my last post! I've been in such an artistic slump for quite awhile now. But, finally, I got started on trying to finish up a portrait I had started eons ago. Actually, I started all over again on it. I had begun on BFK Rives paper, which I had used for "The Power of a Praying Child" and it turned out okay, although I wasn't thrilled with the paper. I started the soldier on the Rives, and it just wasn't going well at all! It was depressing and slow going. I felt like I was fighting the paper.

So, after much thought, I decided to start all over again on a different surface. This time it is on one of my all time favorites - Art Spectrum Colourfix sanded paper. Now, it is going much better!!

I have begun with his face and helmet, taking it one section at a time. I like working this way because I get satisfaction seeing the portrait really come alive day by day rather than waiting weeks or months to really feel like I was getting anywhere. I got depressed working on it before, I didn't want that to happen this time.

His skin is a bit sun burnt from being out in the desert sun in Iraq. He is a 19 year old young man who died in Iraq last summer. It's heartbreaking, but this is a special request from his mother. I only hope I can do him justice and that they like the end result.

Here is the portrait:

Here is a close-up of his face:

I'll add an update as soon as I have made more progress.