My grand daughter will be seven years old this month. I don’t know how that happened as only a moment ago she was a baby. Time definitely seems to speed up as I age, so I thought I’d better get a move on and paint this portrait of her before she grows up or I can’t remember how to paint.
I took a photo of her when she was around two years old. Fresh from the bath and anxious to get her hands on my camera. The light was just right and the look was perfect. But the painting sat in my head over time with a few half hearted attempts to do justice to it that never quite worked out.
Now, on the edge of her turning seven, I wanted to try once again. After the bustle of Christmas and the adventure of New Year’s, life can settle into a degree of normality or at least be quieter for awhile. This little side painting is a good diversion and a break from larger boats, water and palette knives.
Its in progress and the top image is the result of two evenings’ work. Her colouring is very pale with blonde hair so getting the correct skin tone that keeps that northern European complexion but not making her look like a ghost or a frozen child is the challenge.
I love her hands most in this I think. Its as if she was feeling the camera in them before it was there, fingers touching, anticipating. I’m still working on refining shapes and blocking in colour before I start working on the values more. I like the process of creating a portrait and watching a face emerge from nothing. Its magical, frustrating, challenging and rewarding all at once.
Its in oil on 11 x 14 gessoed masonite board. I love the slight texture that the gesso gives when applied with a nap roller. In fact, it would likely make a good pastel surface too. As always, I start with a detailed drawing. This was done on tracing paper, so I could make adjustments as needed, then transferred to the board. Then I start mixing colour and seeing what works, adjusting as I go.