Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reluctantly revealing my first WIP

My artist friend MJ is posting a WIP or work in progress in her blog Mary Jill Lemieur Designs. Check it out, isn't she fantastic?

Portraits are something I have always dabbled in, thanks to my mother who was also intrigued by faces, being a photo-colorist back in the day before color photography was available or affordable for family photos. High school graduation 8x10's were the staple of mom's work-at-home business. I remember as a small child seeing package after package arriving in the mail for my mother to paint and box up and return to the big studios in Detroit. Mom was a professional and she was in big demand in the 50's and 60's.

She didn't get much money for this work, about $1 or $1.50 per 8 x 10, but if you asked her why she didn't raise her rates, she would reply 'I really can't because many of the studios are switching over to natural color as the cost of it comes down and I have to keep my prices low to stay in business.'

Today photo-coloring is an fine art form that not too many people have the know-how or equipment to undertake. Mother had special artist photo-grade oil paints she ordered through the mail, a compressor driven air-brush for the background effects, assorted brushes for those desiring a 'heavy oil' portrait and lots of pure fluffy white cotton to pull and twist onto pointed sticks which she used to apply the paint and rub down to the correct transparency. And turpentine, lots of turpentine.

I would watch in awe as she worked quickly before the paint started to dry. She seemed to pull and twist that cotton onto a stick, add some detail, and flick off the used cotton and twist on a fresh wad in the blink of an eye.

Ok, so here are Cathy and Bill. Extraordinary people I have met though common interests right here on the wonderful world wide web. I chose photos where they happen to both be wearing hats and I am painting them on 6 inch textured ceramic tiles which were a salvaged supplies item that I have found to work out quite nicely in the past.

Here first are the rough pencil sketches on the prepaired tiles (a coat of white Kilz) and then my first applications of paint. I can already see that Cathy is too pink and Bill is jut too dirty looking but I will hopefully remedy this as I move along.
Comments, laughter and snide remarks are encouraged. More photos to follow.

OK, this is harder than I thought, posting pix of an unfinished portrait. Whenever I look at my own work, all I see are the flaws. My first mistake in my initial sketch was not following the slight tilt if Bill's head. It threw everything off. But it is a little late now. His forehead should be taller, I've made his chin too big, his nose a tad too short. I need to put this painting aside for a bit and concentrate on how I can mess up Cathy's...ha!

NOVEMBER 25 UPDATE: Where does the time go? I am starting to stray from the photo a bit so I am not sure if this is looking like Cathy or not since I only know her face from pictures. Also, I need to ask her what color are her eyes. I have made them blue for now.


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Blogger Mary Jill Lemieur Portrait Art said...

Hi Sara, how interesting to read all about your mom...she was so amazing at painting faces. How interesting to read of that lost art.These portraits are coming along quite nicely!

Thanks for all the help on my work in progress! I will be here to "critique" you! I started a new one... Cathy Carey's cat!

Be back later!


Thu Sep 18, 07:10:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Peggy said...

Sara, you couldn't have said it better. As I read what you wrote about Mom, it brought back the smells of the turpentine, the magnifying glasses that she wore and would peer over when one of us walked into the room, making sure her attention was on us and what we had to say. Her cats Puddy and Heidi that spent many a year laying there keeping her company as she painted. I could go on and on, but I just wanted to thank you for bringing back those memories. I love what you are doing, and will watch as it progresses. You surely have Mom's talent and I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and that I love you. Peggy

Sat Sep 27, 05:37:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Mary Jill Lemieur Portrait Art said...

Hi Sara, Hi Peggy!

This is coming along nicely! I always think my work never looks good until it's 90% done. I think you're doing a great job capturing the expressions/likenesses. Portraiture is never easy! Keep going! mj

Thu Oct 02, 06:31:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Sylvia Jenstad said...

good start... can't wait to see the finished portraits...

Tue Oct 21, 04:54:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Rick said...

As a guy that does a lot of faces, (cartoon caricature, not serious like these) I can relate to your frustations. I twas interesting looking at the work, and thinking, "What''s wrong with it. It look great! And then reading as you pick his face apart, bit by bit. I still think it look great. I'm wondering how the project turned out. You do good work - and I tilt my hat to your mother's skills. (that is, if I was wearing a hat.)

Wed Oct 22, 04:34:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Albinocrow said...

Hi Rick,
I need to learn a lesson from your comments and your just have fun and roll with it!
As far as how these two turned out, I am embarrassed to say, they are not any further along. Hey, thanks for the kick in the butt & I hope to 'resume' soon :o)
I like your style and attitude.

Wed Oct 22, 10:02:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sara: Great job...we love them! Bill & Cathy

Wed Mar 31, 02:06:00 PM 2010  

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