Painting the Queen
I recently completed a portrait painting that I felt was one of my best figurative works yet. What makes it really moments for me is have painted very few figurative works in the past 10 or 15 years. I have been pondering whether to get back into this type of work and if I did how to do it. You see, I have been creating a name for myself with my other works and for me to just do a random painting of a figure would be really odd. I was thinking I would privately paint 6-8 images and then when I felt confident I would show them around and see what happens. Well, I started this journey by painting a little 8" x 8" painting of my daughter - just to see if I still had it in me. It wasn't a perfect painting, but it sure did inspire me. Here it is-
The inspiration from this one little painting led me to develop many sketches for various ideas. And then it led me to start to develop three of these into tangible ideas I could use for a painting. It was at this point when I got the invitation to be part of an invitational group show to help raise awareness for the Honey Bee and it's Colony Collapse Disorder disease. The moment I read the invitation an idea popped into my head, I grabbed my sketch book and did a quick sketch and then responded back with a "Yes, I want to be a part in this show!"
Here's the initial concept sketch-
All of my initial sketches look very.... ugly, rough, messy ..... not the best drawings that I make. But they are not meant to be shown around, they are only meant for me so I can record my thoughts and aspirations. To get this rough sketch ready for paint takes a lot of work. After three or four days I am nearly ready with a final sketch. Here it is-
The focus was always on the eyes. I wanted them to be angry, concerned, knowing, accusing and pleading all at once.
The raised arm was added to help tell the story within the painting and then it was time to play with color. I already have a pretty good idea of what colors I wanted but I think it's always good to test them out and see what's going on. These color studies are completed with colored pencils. I knew the yellows and greens but what developed as I was penciling in was the purple shadows, purple in the flowers on her crown and the black and white stripes on her shirt sleeve. For the sleeves, I was originally thinking black and yellow but that put too much yellow around the belly area and made the colors all kind of off balance from each other.
With the color study completed, I am ready to paint. In this image you can see the canvas with the gray base color on and I have all of my reference and drawing studies taped to wall to help me as I paint. The larger drawing to the right is just a few prints of the drawing printed out at a larger scale and taped together. I used this to transfer the drawing to the canvas. I like keeping this around until I have the painting under control because it never fails, I lose some of the transferred drawing as I paint.
And So the painting begins.
This is a very exciting time!!