Made Up

Today I was able to carve out a slice of free time for a painting, and I knew what I wanted to do, but first, here’s why. At the weekend I met up with a friend to go sketching in London (more on that in another post). We’ve both been hankering after some Golden acrylics, drooling over the catalogue. It’s no wonder then that I was absolutely chuffed when he kindly gave me a tube of their Copper Coarse to go away and play with.

So that’s what today was for. I had been trying to come up with an idea to showcase the paint and, after a couple of days turning over ideas, decided that the lovely flowing tresses of a redhead would be the perfect start. The trouble is, I don’t know any redheads with flowing tresses, and especially not ones who would be willing to sit for me. I thought the internet would give me a fighting chance, which it did, but no single portrait suited my needs as I already knew the pose I was looking for. Therefore, this young woman is a composite gathered from parts of various photographs combined to try to achieve a convincing whole. One picture became a hair colour and texture reference, another for achieving a profile (which I rotated and tweaked), and another for skin tones and shadows. My girl really is ‘made up’.

Copper hair acrylic

The camera has disappointingly changed the background from deep turquoise to blue, which is a shame.

This was the first time I’ve tried a portrait in acrylics. I suspect I went about painting this all wrong. I chose an A3 canvas board – the only canvas board I had, so that decision was easy. I already knew the types of colours I was hoping to use, so having sketched in the figure, I began with the background – fair enough. Then because the paints were getting me all excited I went straight for the hair. I know now that I should have done the face first and popped the hair on in the next layer. Let’s just say that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Colours first, then a touch of copper and gold metallics to really zing it up. The hair was so much fun! Unlike the flesh tones, which were jolly difficult, especially the shadows.

The face took longer than the background and hair combined, by some measure. But I think I learned a lot, and painted over my flesh tones several times until I’d truly had enough and decided to live with what I had. I did enjoy the anarchy of the wild eyelashes and eyebrows though.

There’s still so much to learn…onwards and upwards, metallics at the ready!