Sunday, December 5, 2010

Portrait in Acrylics

"Jamie"
Acrylics on gessoed paper
12"x 10"

This is a first for me - a portrait done in opaque acrylics, and truly I had quite a learning experience. Unfortunately, I can't get the colors true in this reproduction. I have not yet bought any Ampersand panels as suggested by Hallie, so I gessoed over a failed watercolor painting on Arches 300 pound paper. The support is quite rough and very rigid. I drew the figure on tracing paper to avoid erasures on my support. I transferred the drawing using a method I learned from Myrna Wacknov. I turned the tracing paper over and went over all my pencil lines with a blue watercolor crayon. Then I placed the tracing paper over my gessoed paper crayon side down and used a ballpoint pen to trace over the lines. A very thin line of watercolor crayon gets transferred to the support. The line disappears when painted over as it dissolves with water, more critical when using watercolors, but a great method.

I wanted the acrylics to remain open and blendable for a while, so as recommended in Barclay Sheaks classic book, I used an acrylic gloss medium over the surface and to mix, slightly diluted, with the paints as I applied them. At first I was like a young child trying something new. Then things began to come together for me as I found how much paint I needed to apply and how to blend the edges. I like the way I managed to keep the edge of Jamie's hair soft and to blend her left shoulder with the background. I am inspired to try more people paintings. The gesso over rough thick watercolor paper provides an interesting subtle surface that glows from the glossy gel medium.

The source was a photo of granddaughter Jamie at the beach in Capitola during their July visit. Like everyone who visits California, Jamie expected very warm days. This summer was about the coolest on record in recent years, but even in the warmest summers, the coast and San Francisco can experience fog and cold. Mark Twain once wrote "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." He was surely exaggerating as Vermont winters trump it every time. But you get the picture. So Jamie wore her sundress. She was able to shed layers briefly and enjoy the warm coastal sun about 2 p.m.

Using Photoshop, I isolated the portion of the snapshot I wanted to use and enlarged it a bit so I could see Jamie's features. For the background, I took inspiration from the colors of the beautiful beach houses reflected in the water where the San Lorenzo River meets the sea. Here is the source photo.


I had a lovely time with my latest adventure in art. I need lots more practice on how to apply thicker paint and paint skin.

14 comments:

hwfarber said...

This is a well-named blog; you are adventurous. You're also cautious. I've never had the patience to transfer drawings; it's something I should try. I love that you're working with all kinds of materials. Now you have more than a photo as a memory of Jamie's vacation. Nice work.

Mary Paquet said...

Hallie, you are such a good blog friend. I love trying everything, but frankly did not feel very successful when I got done. I do have patience, though, so I will try again!

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, I read somewhere that you really get to know someone on a different level when you draw (paint) their portrait. I think it takes courage, and, to echo Hallie's comment, a sense of adventure. I think you employed much thought and consideration in this portrait. Wonderful! And, thank you!

Life Ramblings said...

what a lovely portrait. i enjoy your previous posts as well. great job. hope your week is off to a good start.

Karen said...

This is a great start Mary...keep it up. That place in the photo looks very familiar...LOL

hwfarber said...

Mary, I have always found that people I know are the most difficult subjects to paint. Self-portraits are easier; we don't need to please anyone else.

Kathy said...

Your are fearless - as an artist and in life!! I love how you dig in and get the job done. I usually avoid painting people - or at least real likenesses - because it's so tough to do. But, you don't suffer from that kind of fear. Go get 'em!

Mary Paquet said...

Peggy, that's an interesting saying. Thanks for encouraging me.

Life Ramblings, nice to see you on my blog. I am enjoying your travel photos and writings.

Karen, I bet you've been to that beach many times!

Hallie, I've only done one or two self-portraits -- that's a good idea.

Kathy, it is tough and I guess that's why I like the challenge!

Nina E Jørgensen said...

i really like this painting of yours - you capture the girl very well and her face looks so warm you kind of wish you were where she is!!

Charlene Brown said...

Thank you for sharing that transfer method. Other procedures I've heard of always seem way too labour-intensive and involve powdery pencil graphite or non-erasable lines.

hmuxo said...

Love your post Mary...and you did a wonderful job with Jamie. I've never worked with Acrylics...I bought some oils awhile back and now I'm afraid to use it!! someday..! looking forward to your next piece.

Christiane Kingsley said...

As hwfarber stated, you are certainly adventurous! I loved reading about the process you used for this delightful painting.

Barbra Joan said...

Mary you venture into those unknown waters so well,... and I am always inspired by you ...
also want to say I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, which ever you prefer... just enjoy it.. !! your friend Barbra Joan

Mary Paquet said...

Nina, thanks for checking in -- I am enjoying your latest blog posts.

Charlene, I loved this process when Myrna showed it to us in a workshop. Nice to share hints and tips.

Hilda, thanks for the encouragement. I'm sure you will be very good at doing any medium you try. I am very impressed with your work.

Christiane, thanks for commenting and I know you are enjoying your new career as full-time artist.

Barbra Joan, Happy holidays to you and your family. Your paintings are always so lovely and peaceful that I can't wait to see the latest on your blog.