This young lady just turned 4. I was working on something else for her birthday and I was taken by some images her mother sent me for a “Saturn” painting and collage for the party. I cropped a close up from a lovely photograph by Sara Biese Hurt for reference. I took it upon myself to give a portrait a go because I need the practice with young faces. I ended up giving the finished piece as a Christmas gift to her parents.
Painting children in acrylic is difficult. Unlike with the uneven skin tones and texture of an older person, acrylic resists the smooth blends and flawless skin of extreme youth.
Doing portraits from a photograph alone doesn’t always produce the most accurate results. I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with her family and study her features. 4 year olds are definitely not going to sit still, so the photo acts as the structure, and observation and memory are required to give it a bit more life.
I spent a fair bit of time in the summer doing live figure drawing. Having a live sitter prevents the skills becoming too reliant on photography, even when a photo is often necessary to finish a work – at least for me.
My fascination with portraits continues. I love playing withand altering my reference photo to add in elements, colour schemes and other things that can’t be tested on canvas and go beyond the drawing. The next one coming is of an old friend. He lives in Canada so I see him so rarely, so the photo and memory are all I have to work with. I hope to have it finished early in the new year.
Happy New Year!