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Portrait Painter Wanna-be

I have a firm belief that we should never stop growing and learning. This is true in life in general and in art. I have been painting for more than twenty-five years and am still in the process of ever learning. There is so much I don't know yet, so many skills to obtain!

One area that has seemed to be a pursuit I cannot obtain, is portraits. The human face is so facinating, and I have studied and tried to learn to paint good portraits for years. I've dreamed of being able to capture both the features and personalities of, in particular, someone I love. I've done several paintings of my children and grandchildren, and they all look, well...sort of like them. It has been a point of frustration to me to work so hard and come out with a portrait where I see only glimpses of the person I know.

I had almost given up, when one of my adult children suggested I not try to paint a particular person, but just enjoy the process of painting a human. This seemed like a good idea, because I hated the thought of never painting a person.

So late last Fall I began working on the image of a woman with a floral crown ( of course!) loosely based on several photots I had come across of European women dressed in traditional cultural costumes.

I I began by applying a greenish-gray underpainting ( a technique called Verdaccio), before laying in the fleshtones. It was one of my first times trying this Renaissance technique and I loved it. It made the flesh tones seem so realistic and gave it a porcelain glow.

Once the flesh tones had been laid in, I began adding the floral crown flowers. To me, a floral crown just exudes the power of femininity. I started with bold Poppies, witht he idea to add smaller accent flowers later on.

I loved the idea of this woman in this powerful head dress, drenched in Bohemian style necklaces, looking straight at the viewer. She is thoughtful and engaging.

I chose dark hair and a dark background to highlight her beautiful porcelain skin, and provide opportunity for moody shadows.

And then I added the lovely accent flowers to frame her face.

This piece was such a joy to paint. Once I took the pressure off to paint a portrait of "someone" and instead just tried to paint a human being, in all their fascinating glory, it allowed me to thoroughly enjoy the process.

And...I. Learned. so. much.

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