Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pay It Forward


Victoria Lisi's tip for matching the skin tones in a reference photograph, in her book Vibrant Children Portraits, worked like a charm! And amazed me. What looked darker was actually lighter and visa-versa. I had to pass it on to anyone who might be struggling with matching flesh tones. I had been having some trouble finding the right tone for the infant's forehead and neck where his sister's form cast a shadow. I recalled the index card tip and immediately went around the house looking for index cards and a hole punch. At first I couldn't find the stuff, so I sacrificed a Hallmark Thank You Note. That's what you see here. Later I found my stash and the hole punch, cut the cards in half to double my stock and made a place for these handy tools in my caddy. The tip worked beautifully. I was able to mix the tones right-on and the baby took a turn for the better as did his sister.

Portraiture makes me nervous. I have to walk away from it often during the painting session. I think my nervousness is caused by the medium and my limited brush situation, not by whether I'll get a likeness or not. I feel pretty confident about that. It's the materials that makes me antsy; they feel brand new in my hand. I guess with time and a few portraits under my belt, I'll relax. To relax today, I started the 8 x 10 portrait of my number one son on stretched canvas you see above. I love just starting. Everything goes reasonably well--till you get down to the nitty gritty where anxiety steps in. My brushes leave a lot to be desired, but the sketch is coming along. It is nice though to have someone else to practice on rather than myself.

While I was running the stairs from floor to floor searching for index cards (and getting my exercise out of the way), I spotted the Mourning Doves on my deck rail. They were up to something. I ran down stairs to get my camera hoping out loud they would still be there when I got back. They were and I did catch them billing and cooing. Notice how both birds have their eyes closed as they kissed. When the male bird figured he had done enough wooing, he strutted away to preen his feathers surprising me and disappointing his mate.

15 comments:

  1. How nice of them to wait for you to take their picture :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like an intriguing method. I have no idea how to do the skin tones with paint so I might check out that book. I love seeing your progress and the different things you are trying :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thought so too Agnes. Isn't it sweet how they close their eyes to knock beaks?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kyla, the punched hole in the index card worked like a charm. If you noticed, I kept trying out my mix next to the hole till the mix matched. Then I applied it to the area I was doing and it was perfect. In the book, the fleshtone appear too orange for my idea of flesh--but I think that may have been the fault of photographic reproduction.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Linda.
    I am always nervous doing a portrait. I want so much to peek inside the persona, and then express some of it somehow.
    Your mourning dove photo is beautiful!!! You really captured such an intimate moment. Good for you!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. the punch hole thing is a great idea...I think I saw that in Kevin MacPherson's landscape book. I am loving the portrait! Portraits are tough....but you are showing them whose boss!

    ReplyDelete
  7. How many things are learned, a useful method to find the right shade of color, it also takes much skill.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kathryn I just showed the portrait I did of myself that had red on one side of my face and white on the other to my beauty operator; he thought I looked sinister. I can be sinister if pushed, so it did show a fraction of my personality. Portraits are nervous, because one mark done too flippantly can change the whole expression--or lose the likeness--particularly around the eyes and mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was amazed Celeste. When I first read it, I thought what will I be able to see through that tiny hole--but I saw a lot--I also liked having the card big enough where I could try out the mixes next to that hole. Then something else occurred to me: Lisi and a few other artists I've been reading recommended a beige or gray palette because it's easier to mix the right color on a neutral surface than on a white one. Well index cards are white--and if you're using them to see how you're doing with your mixes--the two pieces of information do not jive. I'll try a tinted palette anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You bet. But we've been doing this all our lives Gabriella. If we can't match colors no one can. When I was designing kitchens and baths and residential spaces, I was often asked to help pick wall paint colors. I would. Then the client would question my choice that it wouldn't match her whatever-she-was-matching. I always laughed inside. My choice always matched. I can buy a blouse that will exactly match a skirt without having the skirt with me. We artists have this talent from years of looking at and mixing colors. If we're off, it is never by much.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Superb portrait. He looks nice and relaxed, lovely. Thanks for the lesson too!
    Happy Painting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You too Nora. He is relaxed. He's not doing what he usually does. He's a perinatologist, the specialist gynecologist for problem pregnancies, for women who are high risk when it comes to childbirth.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful portrait, Linda. Bravissima! Ciao.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's fair to middling, Tito, in its unfinished state. Thank you for your encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've read just about everything above (up to March 27) - just didn't comment on everything. Love the light blue of the dove's eyelid! I love your son's advice to you and it seems like you two are very close (like my oldest son and me :) I NEED to get back to sketching and painting. My youngest son is 4 and I have one more year before he goes off to school... ;( So much of my time is spent with my little man. We also have been busy getting our house ready to be put on the market. UGH. But that is done, now it is every three days I clean ... just in case someone wants to take a look at it.

    You are so fun and so hard on yourself. I think you are fabulous with color and movement. I like the skin color tip and will have to remember that. Thanks

    ReplyDelete