We now have Bruce’s portrait in a value study. Now on to the color. We start at the farthest thing in the picture and move forward, one plane at a time. First the wall. Rather, the picture on the wall. We’ll paint that in a fairly loose fashion. We’re not interested in too much detail. As this photo shows, I’ve changed only the color of the flag. I want observers to notice that it is a picture of a golf course, but I do not want it to take center stage.
In a portrait the “star” is the person. All my choices are centered on that idea. The wall color – cool –neutral, a nice” background” color. The first thing I want you to see is that face. That will be the warmest color and placed in that really cool spot called “the center of interest”. (We’ll talk more about that when we get to “Composition”.) So my choice for the wall will be a neutral pale green.
I was washing brushes and was looking in the mirror (the mirror is on a hinge and facing the easel) as I usually do to check out my work (mistakes are somehow easier to see reversed in a mirror) and – yech! This just will not do! Bruce deserves better than this pea green soup. I was NOT happy. What to do? I did not want a safe blah painting I wanted pizzazz! So, I fixed a cup of coffee and went out and sat in my favorite chair on the deck and waited for inspiration. I hadn’t taken two sips of coffee when I got it – red! I went into the studio and picked up a couple of books by artists I remembered had used red as a background in a portrait. I’ve be at this for a long time, and I “see” the painting finished before I put on the first brushstroke, but, for some reason, the green didn’t “jell”. I need to use the red to fit this painting, so, not too warm. I remembered I had purchased a tube of Daniel Smith’s burnt scarlet and here was the perfect opportunity to try it. This color would cool the blue red I intended to use and I knew the green would take down the chroma (remember when we went through this very thing in the post “Chroma” – we added green to red to reduce the intensity of the red). So – I scraped down the excess green color and went back to work. Now look at the result. We have successfully fished Bruce out of the pea green soup, I like it! (I hope he does) Don’t hesitate to change something if you don’t like it. It’s only paint.
Now the chair. It looks white, but it’s a soft creamy ivory. I place a quarter-sized dollop of white on my palette. I add a little raw sienna to the white adding a little at a time. We simply want to knock down the stark white to a creamier color. I’ll separate a smaller pile to add a little more sienna to which will deepen the color a little bit more. I’ll separate another small pile from the first color and add a small amount of cerulean blue and raw sienna for the shadows. The oak trim on the chair will be done with raw sienna, burnt umber and a little cad yellow for the lights.
The chair has a pattern that will be hard to see using the photo but I want that pattern. The chair takes up a large portion of the painting. I do not want a boring chair. So – how I achieve that is to take my brush and tap the very end of the brush into the lighter paint and tap it onto the chair fabric. Soften it by lightly brushing with a soft brush to meld the paint into the fabric and to knock down any ridges. So now look at our result.
We have all of the background painted (the frame on the golf course will need some highlights, but we will do that later when it’s dry). Next time we will paint Bruce in Portraiture – Part Three.