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-   -   Sarah in Progress (http://portraitartistforum.com/showthread.php?t=3690)

Terri Ficenec 01-14-2004 12:45 AM

Sarah in Progress
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This is Sarah with the primary reference photo. Painting is small, oil on canvas, 9"x12". Still have a bit to do here, but am trying to finish it up.

I did soften some of the shadows that seemed a bit harsh on her face. Did I soften them too much and lose the 3-dimensionality? I do plan on working a bit more to soften her eyes (reduce the 'mascara' effect), and a few other details.

Any comments/suggestions greatly appreciated :)

Terri Ficenec 01-14-2004 12:46 AM

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Close up:

Kimberly Dow 01-14-2004 05:09 PM


I don't know if it is my monitor, but I see hardly any shadows/value changes at all in her face. It's reading almost one flat color to me. I think her eyes need to be looked at a bit more. In the photo she is smiling big and it shapes her eyes a little more squintier(?).

Are you loving the oils? Do you think they are easier? Is this your first oil?

Chris Saper 01-14-2004 07:31 PM

Dear Terri,

I will just drop in here to make a few comments, since you are really bringing this portrait along well!

With regard to your drawing, I think you might check it again, as I feel the mouth doesn't sit symmetrically underneath the nose, and that the eyes are too wide and may be too far apart. Kim's observations are right on target.

With the smile as wide as it, the rest of the expression needs to ring true, in this case, narrowing the eyes, and restoring some of the value changes that make the the cheeks round and the eyes smile.

I think your portrait might benefit from adding some warm hues, especially on the turning places on the upper part of the cheeks, as well as some reflected warmth under the cheeks. Areas like the space between the front teeth, the corners of mouth, the deep shadows in the neck, and the corners of the eyes need, I think, some very dark warms. You might also add warmth where the sunlight is directly striking the hair and flowers, and the top of the shoulder in light.

You have done a very nice job managing your edges with the flowers. The last observation I would make is to look again at the holes in the hair. They are similar to the sky holes that landscape painters put so successfully to work, in that they tend to work best when they are slightly darker in value, and less saturated than the remainder of the background.

Terri Ficenec 01-14-2004 07:54 PM

Hi Kim - thanks!

Well, you've confirmed my fears. I was afraid I had the face too flat. It's looking a bit 'cartoony' to me.

The eyes are a little squintier in the photo, you're right. They're also a lighter brown than came through on the scanned photo. (The original reference photo is film-based and some of the darks scanned a bit darker than the original.)

I do really like the oils... It is SO much easier to blend! (Though I'm fighting a tendency to blend too much!!) This is my second little oil now... the first one is here.

Terri Ficenec 01-14-2004 08:10 PM

Chris-Thanks! Good points all!

The mouth seems off-center to me even in the reference photo (or maybe it's the nose that is slightly crooked?)... in any case, probably I've exaggerated that in the rendering. Definitely not something I want to do! The colors in the actual painting are a bit warmer than they've photographed, but I'll take a fresh look at all those areas you've mentioned... and thanks for the tip on the 'sky-holes' in the hair. Funny, I had seen that discussed on another painting here, not too long ago, but completely missed it myself anyway!

Terri Ficenec 01-20-2004 05:49 PM

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Updated image...

Critiques/comments welcome and appreciated. Thanks!

Terri Ficenec 01-20-2004 05:50 PM

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And closer in: (Sorry, for the glare.)
Looking at it here, I'm thinking it needs some add'l blending between the lights/darks on the cheek on our right.

Leslie Ficcaglia 01-20-2004 09:27 PM

Terri, what a great little subject and what a terrific job capturing the likeness! I do agree with Chris and Kim about the color; she needs more warmth in those skin tones. Sometimes you have to add more color than is present in your reference photo to compensate for odd lighting in your resource material. Clearly the child was in shadow, but I'd set up my own independent "white balance," to use a digital camera term, and bring the colors up closer to their true values. I'd probably load a bristle brush with a warm pink and lightly stroke it over her face to add life and light to the flesh.

The other thing that strikes me about the painting is something that Chris alluded to: the darkness between the teeth and at the corners of the mouth needs to be softened, both in value and in the edges.

Nice to see more of your work! Can't wait to see the finished version.

Terri Ficenec 01-22-2004 12:37 AM

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Hi Leslie! And thanks so much for the suggestions! For some reason, I've been really struggling with this one - frustrating! I essentially skipped the monochromatic underpainting this time and went right into color - not a good idea for me, I guess!

So here's a current status... :( am I getting anywhere here, or just treading water?

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