Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Oil on Canvas  16" x 24"

This week I am spending my evenings planning a new painting - a larger landscape based on my field sketches and photos from the summer. I will work on the piece during the upcoming three-day workshop I'm attending given by Robert Genn. My cohorts are probably tired of hearing me go on and on about the workshop so I better come up with a decent painting.

And just to keep you all quiet for awhile, I'm posting this portrait that I painted for my friend, Clarissa. The painting is based on an old photo of Clarissa holding her son when he was a few weeks old. The original was black and white and was taken using a flash, so there were many artistic challenges. I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I enjoyed painting it.

For those of you interested in more details on my solutions, please read on:

1. I ignored the poor lighting from the camera flash that was washing out the definition of forms and instead, I concocted a light source from the right front. In a pinch, my Better-Half acted as my model and patiently posed for a photo under a strong directional light with a robe draped over his shoulder to help me determine where the light would fall. (I could probably make a few dollars on e-Bay selling that photo, but I wouldn't live long.)

2. I studied images of Mother and Child paintings in library books and online. They inspired me to go for the feeling of serenity. They also gave me the ideas for colours and to add more flowing fabric. I turned the plain white of the baby's blanket in the photo rich navy blue. The comfy white t-shirt Clarissa wore became a golden toned robe.

3. I replaced Clarissa's shorter hairstyle in the photo because it didn't fit the 'heavenly' mood of the painting. For a softer flow, I took new photos of her in the same pose looking down with her long tresses flowing down her shoulder. For skin tones of both figures, I referred to several more recent colour photos and to the real thing, easy to do since I see Clarissa at work daily.

4. Last but not least, there about three layers of paint on the entire canvas. I painted and repainted everything until it was the best I could do at the time. The robe has been red, navy and ended up gold. The baby's blanket has been light blue, gold and ended up navy. And so on...

The entire project was a learning experience for me and I loved working through it. When I got discouraged, I set it aside and worked on smaller items. My committment to finish and deliver, gave me the impetus to keep going even when I encountered road blocks. It was a true pleasure to give it to my friend on her birthday in July.


  1. This painting is one of my most cherished gifts which I truly adore. The other is that fragile little bundle I received 12 years ago. Both of which I'll treasure forever. Thank you, my artist friend!

  2. Before I even read your note Shell, I knew that was Clarissa - wild! You are so talented, love your paintings!

  3. For some reason I have waited to comment on this one - not sure why - but it has a lot of psychology attached I'm sure. Also, with my love for art history I feel that you have captured the more human spirit in a long tradition of mother and child theme - really made it your own.

  4. this is my favorite painting posted here..-myra(telustech)