Portraiture – Natalie

This weekend I finally got to get going on some of the stuff I talked to T. Chris about a week or so ago. Last night I had Maggie sit for me so that I could paint her. I painted her for about an hour and a half to try and get the bulk of the imprimatura done. Basically, the imprimatura is the sketch and toning layer of an oil painting. I first lay down a solid base color (this time I chose cadmium red with a hint of Venetian red to produce the warm pink color which underlies Maggie’s skin tone) by spreading thinned down paint with either a large brush, a paper towel, or a mixture of the two until I have an even medium to light shade covering the entirety of the canvas. Then, I use a normal brush (usually a filbert because I like round edges and the ability to vary the width of my brush strokes) and sketch the outlines of the objects in my painting with the same color I used for the wash (it will come out darker because I have not diluted it). On the subject of dilutions, the working medium I use to thin down, stretch, and dilute my paint is a 2/3 1/3 mixture of mineral spirits and linseed oil, respectively. After I have gotten everything in the right place and properly shaped and proportioned, I use the same brush to add basic shadows. Then, I take a paper towel (sometimes dipped in a little bit of medium) and wipe away highlights. I continue to alternate between adding and subtracting color from my medium base until my painting gains depth and shape. This then acts as the underpainting over which I will add color. Here is the process I used on my portrait of Maggie, the first shot is of the work I got done in the first hour and a half I had with her last night, and the second is the refining I did today off of a photograph:

I draw my inspiration in this technique from the old masters such as the 17th century Italian painter Caravaggio:

Once my underpainting dries, I will then begin to layer color on top, but with this painting I will endeavor to maintain some of my imprimatura/loose brushstrokes, in addition to detailed portions. To really get proper color, I will have to get Maggie to sit for me again (color simply does not translate the same way in a photograph as it does in real life). I am also toying with the notion of adding some of my more abstract/wacky/creature-y elements to this painting, but I am not sure yet.

To end this blog post, I will bring up a few more artists I have discovered recently that I think are relevant inspiration to my work. First, Lee Price, who is known for her hyperrealistic paintings of women in bathtubs eating junk food. Her work can be found here, but I will add a few of my favorites of her work here:

I love the vibrancy and emotion to her work, and all the unsaid messages she is able to convey without even showing the women’s faces. The second artist I have found is Istvan Sandorfi, another hyperrealist painter. His paintings, unlike Price’s, deviate from straight hyperrealism into the realm of surrealism and fantasy. Often, objects in his paintings will be half-translucent or repeated multiple times as if cloned. While it is hyperrealism, there is a messy quality to his work that I really like. Here are a few examples:

His sort of melding of the real and surreal/fantasy is the sort of end goal I have in sight for my own art. More of it can be found here.


Caravaggio, Michelangelo. The Appeal of St. Matthew (Detail). 1599-1600. Web. 2 Oct. 2017. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_Caravaggio_043.jpg

Caravaggio, Michelangelo. Self Portrait from the Martyrdom of St. Matthew. 1599-1600. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

Price, Lee. Tea Cup. 2013-2014. Web. 2 Oct. 2017. <http://www.pinkkarton.pl/2014/10/07/in-the-bath/&gt;.

Price, Lee. Self Portrait in Tub with Chinese Food. 2009. Web. 2. Oct. 2017. <http://www.leepricestudio.com/recent-1/&gt;.

Sandorfi, Istvan. The Meanders of Comparison. 1986. Web. 2 Oct. 2017. <http://www.kalmanmaklary.com/exhibition/etienne-sandorfi/2011/?sw_2313_item=2623&gt;.

Sandorfi, Istvan. Unknown Title. Unknown Date (circa 1980s). Web. 2 Oct. 2017. <http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0DbvItzoK4M/VV4LBTyNDjI/AAAAAAAEdg0/6eVfbrVEcM0/s1600/%25C3%2589tienne%2BIstv%25C3%25A1n%2BS%25C3%25A1ndorfi%2BTutt%2527Art%2540%2B%252871%2529.jpg&gt;.

4 thoughts on “Portraiture – Natalie

  1. perlinefeng

    I love how detailed you recorded the process of your work. I think the reflections you did on other artist’s work will definitely help you in your own project. I love the color of this artist’s work, and I see that you also love warm, vibrant colors in your work. I look forward to seeing more of your art.

  2. kcmill12

    This is all really beautiful. I love the portrait of Maggie. It was great to see the side by side comparison at different stages of completion. Great insight.

  3. trayhammond

    Your use of imagery in your blog is really fascinating and really drew me in. I think you should continue using that! I was scrolling and went, “wait, is that Maggie?” Keep it up! 🙂

  4. Gwyneth Turner

    Wow! I’m so impressed by your painting of Maggie! Although I unfortunately lack the knowledge to fully understand the artistic intricacies that went into it, I can say that I really love the warm colors you used as well as the naturalistic way you painted her. It immediately reminded me of the work of artists from the Italian Renaissance, so I wasn’t surprised when you cited Caravaggio as an influence.


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