Sunday, May 5, 2013

new commission: just a start

i actually received this commission a bit before we left for borrego springs, but because of the trying conditions out there i put it off until we returned home. there are a couple of challenges here for me. first of all i not only know these folks i am also related to them by marriage. the woman connie is my wife's sister and the guy john is her husband. so i know that i am going to put quite a lot of stress on myself to get a good likeness. that may not all that difficult but to keep it fresh at the same time will be the trick. additionally they wanted a landscape format which for the source photos they sent me was not ideal. lastly, they are a pretty conservative couple and any quirky compositional or technique things will probably not work well with their sensibilities.

i finally settled on the composition you see here. at a life painting session last fall i was struck by how vibrant and glowing the skin tones were when framed by a darker purple-ish gray neutral. i changed mush of the darker background in the reference photo to this color and made some geometric shapes to frame the figures. all this was drawn and transferred to a 300#, 15"X22" piece of fabriano artistico hot press paper.

i will just put up the stage photos as i moved along. they are more or less about 30 minutes of work between each. as it is a new "color" for me i will note that the dark background is a loosely mixed combination of cobalt blue and cadmium red light. so far the likenesses are coming along okay and i am liking the dark strips of color behind the figures. i am struck by how little detail is necessary in john's profile to get the effect that i want. it is mainly driven by the outline of the front of his face. that's good as there is a paucity of half-tones (or the whole thing is a half-tone) in the photo i am using which means that if i am going to put them in i will have to make them up. that was a challenge for connie's face. that is the trouble with a flash photo.

so far so good


  1. This is exciting Bob being family members. I think they both look great and have wonderful expressions already , but then of course I don't know if you caught the resemblance .

  2. Good start Bob. And I agree, flash photos are really difficult. However, I think the expressions on their faces are so sweet and adoring. I'm glad you picked that one to do.