Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I have mentioned before that I have several friends who allow me to use their photos as reference for paintings. This painting is from a reference photo from one of my friend's uncles! His name is Bill Bell, and he lives in Mexico. As he goes about his daily life, and during his many travels, he takes amazing photos. He has become my "friend" on Facebook.

I "fell in love" with one of his pictures of a little Mexican girl, sitting on her father's lap, and Bill graciously agreed to allow me to paint his photo of her. Bill told me that her father is Huichole Indian and her mother is Cora. The outfit she is wearing is Cora of Nayarit.

I decided to try a new technique for this portrait. I have done many portraits on paper, but this time, I worked on canvas! I was able to prep the canvas to accept charcoal, and after several days of working on preparing the canvas surface, I was able to begin.

I worked in the background first, grinding the charcoal into the texture of the canvas. Then I began with the whitest whites of the portrait - those areas which have direct sunlight or reflected light.

I then worked on the eyes. For me, I have to make sure that I get the eyes correct first, or there is no point in going on. Other artists do things in different order, but for me it is eyes first.

Once I have established the eyes (there is more work to be done on them, but I am satisfied at this point that they are working for me), I began laying in the first layers of value. And voila! The face begins to take shape.

This portrait will take many, many layers of charcoal to build up the depth necessary for a realistic effect. The canvas does not take the charcoal in the same way paper does, so it is much more work. But I am enjoying the process, and loving how sweet her little face is! I will post the next steps the end of this week - and maybe even the finished portrait!

No comments: