Early this month I began working on a 16"x20" commissioned portrait of three little girls. They're lying on their stomachs and looking in a mirror, so you can see their faces along with the backs of their heads. The painting will be an anniversary present for the girls' grandparents later this week, so if you know grandma and grandpa, please don't tell them and spoil the surprise!
As with any portrait, I began with the faces. Each one here is about 2-3 inches tall, and my 000 brush got a workout! Myra (left) appears to be charmed by her baby cousin Ruby. In the original photo, which was taken by the girls' grandfather, Ruby seemed to be gnawing on her hands...
...and this obscured most of her face. The girls' parents did not want to ask grandpa if other photos from this session existed because then he might have wondered if they were up to something. So I looked at a different photo of her for this portrait. Not easy, but I think I pulled it off.
I saved Octavia for last--she seemed easiest and indeed was. She and her sister Myra are intelligent, sweet girls with adorably geeky interests such as volcanoes, drawing, and superheroes. Octavia's pose was so thoughtful--you can see the little wheels turning in her head.
Dark blond, wavy, long, slightly messy hair is the absolute hardest hair to paint! Myra's took a couple of painting sessions to finish. Making things tougher: her striped shirt that you can see between the strands. I had to invent parts of Ruby's hands.
I worked on Octavia's clothes and began filling in the background: greyish carpeting, what I think are shoes, and somebody's knees. Then I moved downstairs and began the girls' striped shirts. It's fun to suggest wrinkles in fabric by changing the stripes' width. At least I think it's fun. I protected the perimeters of their hair with masking fluid, which shows up as yellow here.
And then, as usual, feeling like I was hitting the home stretch, I skipped taking photos for a couple of days. Myra's hair was once again really hard to deal with and seemed to be snaking around all over the place. It took two days to paint. Octavia's was a relative cakewalk, and Ruby's could not have been easier (paint a bald head, gingerly add the hair with a fuzzed-out brush). I was thankful that Ruby's parents dressed her in solid, light colors.
I saved the blanket for last because I really liked the idea of painting all those stars and moons. I painted the entire blanket and its reflection a light blue with blue-gray shadows before topping it with the stars and moons. I had to distort some so they would look right with the blanket's lumps and folds.
I scanned the painting yesterday and presented it to Myra and Octavia's thrilled father, and he has about a week to frame it. I'm eager to hear about the grandparents' reaction! In the meantime, I've popped it up on Imagekind as a print (click here)...
...and later this week I'll add it to some items on my online merchandise store.
If you'd like to read about projects like this as they happen, please go to my Facebook watercolor page and give it a *like.* Thanks!