Great Grandma

EA009 - Great Grandma For my next foray into portraiture, I decided to paint the other person in the photograph, my great grandmother.  One of the disadvantages of painting the departed, especially if they have been departed for a while, is that you really don’t know what tone their skin was, or what colors their eyes were.  In this case, I have to assume brown eyes.


So I got started with my undersketch, and then moved on painting.  This was done using a set of “Basic” brand acrylic paints, a set of Artist’s Loft synthetic brushes, and 9” x 12” watercolor paper.


The watercolor paper warped and bent while I was using it, which was annoying, but I’m not sure if there is a way to avoid that.  I began with a simple undersketch which had a good likeness to great grandma, and began layering on paint.  Rather than mixing the skin tones, I purchased a tube of acrylic skin tone, which made the job easier.  I realize that just buying a tube of skin tone is a form of cheating.  Not necessarily cheating in the traditional sense of stealing, but more cheating myself out of developing some skills that I need.  I actually did try mixing to the skin tones several times, and I realized that it was burning up a lot of time, and since my temporal budget is even more limited than my fiscal budget, skin tone paint it was.  So, after filling the drawing, painting my shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, here’s what I came up with.



Not bad, not bad.  Certainly an improvement over my previous painting.

Things I Like:

I like the shading on the face.  It seems to give more dimension.  One thing that doesn’t come in so well on the scan is the use of warmer reds for use in shading.  This is most apparent in the area just below the nostrils.  Also, the rosiness in the cheek (her left cheek, our right) seems to add some life to the portrait, although I would have done better to paint some matching rosiness on the other cheek.  The hair came out well, the lips were a bit of an over-saturated red, so I covered them with a thin layer of skin tone, which seemed to tone them down a notch.  Also, the highlights and the hair came out looking decent.  The shading of her neck under her chin adds some dimension.  And there isn’t much of it, but the shading on her clothes really brings out the wrinkles and highlights.

Things I don’t Like:

Her eyes are off.  They are too big, like one of those Area 51 aliens.  Okay, maybe not THAT bad, but still, I need to shrink them down.  Also, likeness isn’t quite there.  I.e., you wouldn’t look at this painting and instinctively think, “Aha!  There’s great grandma!”  But overall, not bad considering this is only the second time I’ve tried to paint someone’s face.


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