Sunday, December 5, 2010
Portrait in Acrylics
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.