The Creation of the Kids

May 14, 2015

I have never before accepted painting requests with portraits. I only have done one other portrait painting during my college years and it took a whole semester! Because of this, I thought that a portrait painting would be impossible because of the amount of hours involved to complete faces, not to mention they are the most difficult subject matter to paint. My wise husband reminded me that I've had many years of experience since that semester, and encouraged me to take the challenge. This picture in particular was just so incredibly sweet that I couldn't pass it up, and even the client was encouraging me to complete it because he trusted in my previous work. The painting took about 10 hours to complete-a huge difference from a whole semester!


This was the first try on the beautiful faces. I was so nervous to start this painting, but also very excited to see what the final result would look like. I decided I would plow right through and paint all four faces first, because I knew if I could complete those successfully, the rest of the painting would probably go smooth. (Also notice my awesome painting smock that I made in elementary school :) )


The faces are done!! A HUGE sigh of relief once they were done.The photo that I was given had an Instagram filter on it, but I thought the yellow tint made the painting look warm, inviting, and nostalgic. As layers of color are added to the cheeks and foreheads, the kid's faces slowly form. I always painted in the eyes last, and it was amazing how much character the face took on once the eyes were set!


Next task up was to paint in their clothes. Lots of large, over-sized sweatshirts which made for a ton of wrinkles and crevices, which I enjoyed putting in place. My husband was especially critical about the sports logo and made sure I got it right on the sweatshirt :)


Finally the clothes were all in and all that was left was the background! I got into a little trouble here-I assumed all along that the background would be the easiest part of this particular photo, but to my surprise, it was the most difficult! The kids are standing in water, with wooden planks resting in the water behind them. The original picture was cut out between each wood board, and then when it was Instagrammed it was laid on a yellowy surface which showed through the cut out sections. Firstly, it was hard to transition from seeing the kids with a pure white background to making sure they still stood out with a very dark background. Secondly, I redid the wood boards and light stripes in the background about three times before I was satisfied. It was a frustrating process because I loved how the faces turned out so much, I wanted to the rest of the painting to be at the same caliber. The ultimate goal was to paint the background well enough for the viewer to not even notice it.


To complete the painting, I waited for the oils to dry, then made a yellow glaze. This glaze was made up of a few oil paint colors mixed with linseed oil, and was then painted over the entire canvas. This glaze helped to tie all parts of the painting together and give a hue to the faces that made them a couple shades warmer as well as cohesive.


Overall, this painting was a JOY to complete. It was challenging, the kids faces were ADORABLE, and I learned a lot about brushes and techniques in the process. I have a renewed confidence in my portrait painting skills, and am now accepting orders with faces :) This painting was hard to send away, but I am excited for these kid's precious Mom who got to be surprised on Mother's day with this sweet, sweet gift.

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