December 28, 2009

Eyes of Blue I.O.U

This December one of my commissions was actually an IOU - a painting made as an in-kind service to graphic designer Rachel Bair Ficek. It is nice to have this painting finished and feel that everything is squared away and even for the end of this year. The painting was of Rachel’s two children and her sister’s three children - five little portraits to get right on one canvas. How daunting!
Because portraiture requires accuracy I spent a long time making a transfer grid and preparing a grisaille. For the grisaille I used red and umber earth tones with touches of shell white over a rose colored ground. The painting above is this painting sketch, or underpainting. Besides making certain that everyone is sitting where they ought to be on a canvas, the grisaille also brings out any defects in the canvas such as scratches or uneven paint that has to be corrected. There were two areas that had to be patched and allowed to dry before proceeding.
One by one, the children appeared in full color as I applied pigment over the grisaille. The second child to be completed is the pleasingly plump boy to the right. I found the children’s hands to be very expressive and included them in the painting to add an extra dimension of personality.