I'm going to spend the summer building my website's portrait portfolio, and I wanted to add a child to the mix first. A few months ago my friend Melinda posted a photo of her adorable 3 year-old daughter Mabel on Facebook. Mabel was sitting in front of a couple of loaded bookshelves while engrossed in Peanut, one of her favorite books. I immediately knew I had to paint her. The following photos were taken during the first three days of painting.
I loved how unfussy my reference photo was--hairs out of place, Mabel obviously into her book--and how real Mabel seems. This is the kind of child I want to paint, not some primped, posed, styled-within-an-inch-of-her-life robot baby. I added her hair and brightened up her skin tone a bit with some yellow.
This crazy book took three episodes of Mad Men to paint, but I like how it turned out. Oh yeah, I sort of watch movies and TV series while I work. Other things I've had on during this painting include Jesus Christ Superstar, Basic Instinct (no idea why), Curb Your Enthusiasm season 7, Grey Gardens, and Chariots of Fire.
Her skirt--some kind of beloved, ripped play tutu--was great fun to paint, although it took at least an hour longer than it should have. I was uptight about its texture.
Ignore the tiltiness of the shelves--camera distortion. They're straight in real life. Also a severe thunderstorm was in progress when I took the photo, so the colors are more than a little muddy. But I like to get the shelves figured out before I start in with the books, so here they are. Many more books continue on the left side, too. I'll need to darken some parts of Mabel's hair tomorrow to connect her with the background.
I've got to say that painting all day feels so, so right, and I marvel over this often as I work. Painting is what I need to be doing. Stay tuned for more Mabel updates. I hope to have her finished in about a week and a half.