I had made good progress during my work based on the reference photograph, but I decided it wasn’t good enough. As a way to visualize changes that might improve the painting, I decided to do a mark-up on the iPad, using a side-by-side comparison with the reference photo.
markup of painted portrait, as a result of side-by-side comparison with photo. iPad screenshot.
I cropped the photo included in my September 8th post and imported it digitally into the ArtRage app on my iPad. I then ‘painted’ over the portrait area, trying to remedy the problems I identified in the painting. This was a freehand process, done by ‘eyeballing’ the photo reference. ArtRage is not able to make measurements for a closer comparison of the two images.
I like this markup as well as the final painting — if not more! The ability to easily edit iPad marks liberates me from feeling that each (potentially incorrect) modification is ‘permanent’. Playing around with the marks often yields spontaneous and interesting ideas that I would never have attempted initially in oils.
Even though I liked the resulting mark-up, I knew it would still be a challenge to implement these ideas in oil paint on the actual painting.
A few days after my third meeting with Rita, I decided to spend some time at home, making corrections based on the photo I’d taken at the prior session. Then I blew up a print of the photo, marked up the dimensions of key facial features and then taped it beside my updated portrait for a closer comparison.
A quick look confirms that the portrait is better than it had been, but . . . the chin is too long. The lower cheeks and forehead are too narrow. The nose isn’t quite right and the eye on our left droops too much. The hair is too high (but I love it so! Will I bite the bullet and whittle it down?)
session five, after implementing changes identified via my iPad analysis
I show it to Rita who likes it ‘as is’ and doesn’t want me to make more changes. Hmmmm. What to do?
The next time Rita and I got together, I focused primarily on developing her eyes and trying to capture the slight grin we’d arrived at for the facial expression. Didn’t want to touch the hair or general coloration, which I liked.
Rita at session 3.
At the end of the session, I made a photo or two of Rita in this position and with ‘the grin’. You can see immediately that I’ve got a ways to go!
At our next session, I posed Rita looking straight ahead. I thought that would be contemporary, as well as more fun for both of us. We could see each other, converse more easily, and I could watch her sparkling eyes as I painted. I thought it also might help her hold a little grin ~~ I knew I’d be grinning at her the whole time and grins are infectious.
Rita, first session in oils on linen.
Here’s how the painting looked at the end of the first session with oils. My main goals were to situate her on the canvas, get an approximation of her bright shirt, rough out the face contours, and depict her silver hair in luscious pale colors.
Blue Moon at the Half Shell. original iPad painting.
This iPad sketch is based on a neon sign and its reflections, spotted while dining on the wonderful grilled oysters at The Half Shell, in Biloxi. A feast for the eyes to match the feast for the taste buds.
My friend Carlos, who wants to experiment with natural-light photographic portraits, joined me for the first session with my neighbor Rita. He made a number of beautiful pictures, while I snapped photos of Rita from my on-looker’s vantage.
Rita at ease
After he left, I did a quick charcoal sketch of Rita, in a three-quarter pose. It was ok for the first session, but I didn’t like the pose and definitely wanted to capture a grin, if not a smile, in the final product.
I am working on a portrait series of several neighbors, hoping to improve my portraiture skills. My across-the-street neighbor, Rita, has been my first subject. And what a subject she’s been. I’m very happy with the outcome and am happy that she likes it too. Thanks, Rita!
My niece, Alison Neustrom, passed away last week after battling pancreatic cancer for eleven months. In an interview made a few months before she died, she revealed that she loves sunshine, sunflowers and all things orange. This beautiful photo, displayed during her send-off, captures her perfectly.
Alison decorating her wedding chapel
Her obituary, the eulogy delivered at her funeral, and a memory about her graveside service give you a good sense of this extraordinary young woman.
There is no way to compete with the wordsmithing of my brother Joe, who wrote the obituary, or our new friend Jeff, who wrote and delivered the eulogy, or the insightful family friend who penned her reflections on Alison’s interment.
So I’ll simply say, Alison, thank you for being you. We’ll take good care of your husband Dave and your little Ceci. Love love love.
Misty island morning, with pines. original iPad painting.
I’ve begun a new series of iPad paintings to reflect scenes of my native Biloxi, Mississippi and surrounds. This one is based on a photo made by my niece Ceci one misty morning on Horn Island. More to come.