Anyway, I have been wanting to document her aging process and show the wrinkles, in all its earned glory the changed posture, her millions of thoughts inside that has accumulated over 82 years. How do I paint that?
Here is a photo I took of the pose.
Okay, here is the first block in. My first challenge was that I can't get Mom to sit on a high chair due to health concerns so I had to sit while painting so I could be at a better level with her. As it is, I am still looking down a bit and I prefer to be at eye level.
Oh well, it must be this way..so I grabbed a blank white canvas. It was all I had, normally I never paint on a white canvas. I had black on my palette, so I used it to draw an outline or cartoon like drawing. Also, she was wearing all black...so I thought this would be good to use to quickly get some paint on and block in her clothes.
The background was very ochre-y so I used black, ochre and white to get rid of the white background. Then I noticed that her skin is very pink (but not a warm pink) so I used alizarine and white with a dab of naples (my naples-Sennelier) to quickly block in her pink skin.
The next step was to add a bit of shadow to Mom's neck and side of her face so English red was the perfect choice. I like to use English red with Ultramarine Blue and white as a shadow color. This time though, I had some Egyptian Violet I was trying for another painting and I added that. I like the cool value it gave me. When you first start a portrait, its important to really notice what is unique about the person. What are their most distinguished features. Over the years, I have noticed that Mom has lost her upper lip and the lower one protrudes. Also, her eye lid droops a bit. I think that just getting those 2 things, helped to achieve a likeness right away. I would never be concerned with details but I am impatient like the rest of you and want instant gratification-- so if a few suggestions help me to see the likeness - I go for it. Its when we allow ourselves to be consumed with details and small brushes and too many color choices that you get yourself in trouble. And Frustrated. When I see students come in with a palette full of colors, it is just a matter of time before I hear them say "I'm having trouble mixing this color." My reply is usually "I would too with that palette"
Limit the number of colors you use and then use the exact same palette every time you paint. Think about it. In the printing process, there are only 4 colors. Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and black. Everything printed is made from a combination of those 4.
A typical Renaissance palette is White, Yellow Ochre (not too dark), French Vermillion, and Ivory Black. Many times I will stick to this palette and in my Portrait Class they will start theirs this way too. Hal Yaskulka's Figure Painting class also uses this palette.
So back to "Kline's Mother" I think this first sitting was successful and I will continue to post the progress. Mom is a very willing sitter which helps a lot!