Portrait: Jo


09.30 – 12.30 Session One

The first in a two session sitting.  Jo wore a colourful and eclectic costume of a suede tan skirt, red velvet ruched sleeveless top, with a denim frilled waistcoat over, plus a stunning, felted and decorated hat.

We were asked to bring a small A4/A5 sketchbook and a light and a dark graphite pencil.  We made a 10 minute drawing of the entire figure with the lighter pencil, reviewed the composition and drew a light square/rectangle around the area we thought would make a good image.  We could change our mind if desired, once decided, the selected “frame” was made stronger with the darker pencil.  We all put up our drawings and discussed our choices.

A4 Pencil Compositional Sketch

A4 Pencil Compositional Sketch

Once decided, we began our painting.  As usual I mapped out the rough shape on the board with dilute raw umber.  I had scrubbed on a dark ground with leftover acrylic on my palette made up of ultramarine blue, alzarin crimson and cadmium red. This made a lovely textured ground of warm and cool purples.  At first it made the painting a little difficult as the raw umber was not overly obvious, however, when added a mid tone I could map out the initial shapes, lights and darks.  On my palette I had cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, sap green and white. I also added naples yellow and raw umber for mixing.  At the end of the session, I had the main bones of the painting with the fabrics and hat needing describing more fully next time. Using a touch of cadmium orange in the background colour gave a little extra zing and was interesting against the purple ground.

Jo - Oil on Canvas Board Session One of Two

Jo – Oil on Canvas Board
Session One of Two


09.30-12.30 Session Two

The challenge this time was to avoid undoing what had worked previously.  Looking at our model and critically comparing what was already on the canvas with what I could see.  The main thing that needed adjusting was the the profile of the nose, the shape was fine but it was too large on my painting.  To avoid messing up, I worked on the background, chiselling out and refining the entire profile.  This also gave a nice light effect around the face, allowing me to keep the features soft and giving a contre jour appearance.

It was so tempting to fiddle about with the face, but self-discipline prevailed and I thoroughly enjoyed working on the fabrics, the frilled denim, the corduroy/suede skirt with netting beneath and the felted hat. I struggled with the flesh of the arm but found that by using a dry hog brush, I could soften my brush marks and tried to sculpt the muscles and bones in the hand.  Finally, the bracelets, necklaces and felted corsage on the wrist were indicated. I am very pleased with the result.

Jo - Oil on canvas board 40 x 60cm

Jo – Oil on canvas board 40 x 60cm Session two of two


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