Thursday, February 23, 2012

FPM #8: Emmet gets some color

 Fall Portrait Marathon, Emmet!

Emmet - work in progress
Acrylic on canvas, 5" x 5"
©Xan Blackburn 2012
Little Emmet still seems to be scowling, but that will be resolved right at the end.  In looking at the painting this morning, it was clear to me that the underpainting was really not done.  The darks were nowhere near dark enough: my usual timidity!  That pop that gives the final sense of reality is really in the contrasts of darkest darks and highest highlights, so you can't really be wimpy about that.

Still, I was excited to start laying in some color, so I cheated and did the first color glazes first.  I'm not recommending that, just sayin'.

I'd been thinking about how I would achieve that glowing translucence of skin with barely any pigment in it.  I decided I'd start with the way it is in reality: from the blood out.  I diluted a cadmium red hue, and washed it over all Emmet's exposed areas.  It looked VERY pink, but I know it's going to have lots of layers of "skin" on top, so I didn't worry about it.

While waiting for that pink to dry, I got out a couple blues to start on the non-Emmet areas.  I chose a cyan blue to start on his sweater, and ultramarine for the cushions around him.  The ultramarine is a blue-violet, which is cooler than the cyan, so they won't just become one big blueness with a cat head peeking out.

Once I had indulged my need for color, which really did help to define what was what, and give Emmet some life, I dutifully got out my old faithful Payne's gray to develop the shading more.  I started right in Emmet's eyes, deepening the pupils, the upper lid, and the watery shadow that casts right into the eye itself.  I spent quite some time washing in shadows on his sweater and the cushions, and pushing his elbow and tail back into the shadows a bit.  Even though the reference photo was lit more generally, I want the focus - the spotlight if you will - to be on his distinctive little face, so I'm moving the light source over to our left and up a bit, which will give me more interesting shadows to give him dimension.

I also brought that cool Payne's gray into Emmet's face, giving him some more subtle shape, with the shadow cast by his nose and the curve of his muzzle, and his eyebrow area on our right.  I also got that dilute red working again around his face, bringing more depth to the pinks around his nose and mouth, his eyes, and particularly his ears.  I think that's going well.

Emmet - work in progress (detail)
Acrylic on canvas, 5" x 5"
©Xan Blackburn 2012
Merann told me that Emmet's eyes are golden-greenish-golden, depending on the light.  Okay!  I mixed a light golden yellow with the glazing medium, and gave him that first glaze of gold to back up and light up his eyes.  When that was dry, I went back with a little of that cyan in his sweater, mixed with a touch of the yellow glazing medium to add some areas of that green, preserving areas where the light would be likely to pool from my chosen light source.

There's a lot still to do.  I'll just get back to it, shall I?

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