Oil Portrait of my Dad
6 x 6 Oil on Panel
by Amanda Farquharson, Jan 27 2019
I painted this portrait of my dad and finished it up today. In the interest of blogging more of my projects and not just throwing them on social media (It’s so easy to not blog! ha!), here is a bit of the process.
This painting first started with selecting a photograph of my dad that I liked. The best photos (especially if someone is deceased and you are picking from some older stuff) have been natural or studio lighting (no indoors lighting, no flash), some good detail in the eyes, and some good shading in the face. I really liked my dads expression in this one, it really looked like him and I wish there was more shading in the face but I did my best!
Here is a condensed video showing two time lapse videos of the two sessions I spent painting. In the first day I pre-mixed my colours on the palette, holding smears of colour up to my reference photo on my palette knife until I got some pretty accurate colour matches. Then I started filling in the areas in a kind of paint-by-numbers style, but blending edges where needed. It makes me crazy not to have highlights in the eyes from the beginning, so they went in straight away even though I know all standard painting advice is like: DON’T DO HIGHLIGHTS UNTIL THE END. Ehhh.
I worked on the first day wet-in-wet (alla prima) which I did by keeping a whole fistful of brushes with all different shades on them and trying not to contaminate each brush with neighbouring colours too often.
Then James woke up and I had to stop for the day! I let the paint sit for 3 days until it was dry to the touch before using another nap time to work with what they call scumbling (for the most part). Scumbling is applying super thin layers of paint (I thinned my paint out with fast drying poppy oil) and blending it into the first days work. This is helpful for adding subtle shading, I added some indian red to the nose and cheeks for a more lively face colour, and I lightened the background just around my dads face to help him pop out, some texture and shading to his clothing, stuff like that.
I’m very happy with this one. I really feel like my portrait work is coming along. Which just goes to show that practice is EVERYTHING because this is really something I thought I couldn’t do and I am improving every day! I still don’t feel brave enough to accept a commission for a portrait but hopefully in time I will.