The image above is the sketch that I submitted for approval to a client who requested paintings of two children on separate canvases; size 12x20" each. On approval of the sketches the client sent a 1/3 deposit and I proceeded with the work. This is my "off" season (insert manic laughter here) and about the only time I accept commissions. This year I have been kept unusually busy with them. The next step is to transfer the drawings to canvas.
At this point I painted the entire figure of the boy in one spurt of enthusiasm and forgot to photograph the stages. So when I started painting the girl I tried to stop often to record my progress. Here is what I did on her face. The reference photos showed an olive complexion so I used a mixture of raw sienna, cad red, some ultramarine and white for the basic skin tone. I varied that quite a bit throughout the face and added violet around the shadowy areas of the eyes and under the chin. Non-fugitive sap green is also wonderful in the shadowy areas around the eyes.
Although quite young, this child has a lovely almost grown up aspect to her features that challenged me. I didn't want her to look too old. In these first stages I think her chin was too long so in later stages I shortened it.
The reference photo had one image of a very cute dress with a little hanging net petticoat that I decided to use in the painting. I think the coral is just right for her skin tone.
For her dress I used white, ochre and pyrrole red. The petticoat is a lighter shade of the same mixture. In some of the shadows I substituted raw sienna for the ochre in the coral mixture.
At this stage I have painted in the figures and will start on the collaged area under their feet. For this I use sheets of calligraphy stained with walnut ink. I tear the sheets to pieces that fit around my painting.
I place the canvases side by side for this stage so I can tear the sheets and then fit the pieces together like a puzzle. This part is really fun; tearing, finding a place where the piece will fit and then glueing with gel medium. My fingers get all gluey and it's fun to peel them off afterward.
I have finished the collaged ground and done an underpainting on both canvases in the warm coral color. At first I thought I'd make the backgrounds of the two paintings different but in the end thought it would be better to unify them in case the client wanted to hang them in proximity to each other. I did a scumble of ultramarine blue and white over the underpainting. Scumbling is a bad bad habit that I love to do that will ruin your brushes so keep the ruined ones in a special jar and save them just for that or you'll never have a brush that holds a point .
The backgrounds look different in this photo because the pictures were taken under different light conditions. Actually they are the same cool blue scumble. The photos below show the childrens' expressions and faces close up.
I've emailed picture files to the client and now wait to see if there will be adjustments. The daughter in the painting is a future artist and so this entry is especially for her; to encourage her to paint more and to model how easy it is to plunge in and try.