View Full Version : WIP - your input requested

05-21-2013, 12:02 PM
I'm losing my objectivity on this portrait and would love some feedback and suggestions. I really liked the shadows that were cast, and tried to capture them. But it's hard now for me to see what is working well and what, well, needs some work.

Thanks in advance for your help. This is 1/4 sheet, 300# hotpress, Arches, assorted W/N pigments.


05-21-2013, 12:50 PM
Excellent portrait but it looks a bit bland Terry, here it is with auto balance:



05-21-2013, 01:23 PM
I rather like the blandness as you put it Yorks. I'm a big fan of close tones right now. However, I would like to see just a *little* more depth to the eyes. The focus seems to be on the mouth right now (as it is in direct sunlight) but the eyes lack character.

05-21-2013, 01:27 PM
Good ideas so far, and still lots to think about and problems to solve! Does anyone think that the jacket is too bland? Do the cast shadows on the jacket and shirt work?

05-21-2013, 02:40 PM
I do think more color in the jacket will really make his face pop! Great portrait!

05-22-2013, 03:06 AM
I agree it is "bland" in that you have a lot of mid-tones throughout the painting. Can you darken the jacket and the background? That would help his face to pop and take the focus back again. You have captured beautiful tones in the shadows on his skin

05-22-2013, 03:07 AM
Maybe a bit more added to the darks on the eyes and ears?

05-22-2013, 03:42 AM
Maybe I chose my word badly - sorry!

A little more contrast would improve it i think.


05-22-2013, 04:12 AM
I think its a great portrait and your shadow shapes are great....I do think a bit more contrast would be good, I even grey scaled it to have a check on my 'feeling'.... if the light is coming from about 11 o'clock (?) then his left ear/side would be I think a bit stronger, even with reflected light? And his eyes could do with a little 'more' too, i think.
One thing i did wonder is if the shadows for the jacket are the right colour..it could be the photo but i wondered if they would show the colour of the jacket as much as a 'shadow' colour ( more akin to what shows for the creases around the pockets and the button shadows?)That's just a feeling though...(I see sun so rarely I could be easily wrong!...Scottish rain icon)
But I'm saying all this because of really really looking - I love what you do and how you do it, and you've captured the strength of the sunlight really well, which I appreciate you don't want to lose while adding in wee touches to the painting!

05-22-2013, 05:15 AM
You have a very good drawing - and for a portrait that is essential! Now to the painting. The lips are wonderful as is his neck. The rest of the portrait looks like you are afraid to put down real color and use watery faded-out washes.
I'm going to advise in a different direction from what others have said. I think that you have too many different colors in his face. I know that many watercolorists like the blues and greens, but I feel it's better to learn how to paint a portrait using skin tones before getting adventurous.
Try painting a portrait using variations of the skin tones. I'm using a light skinned person for example. Use red and orange in different values. A deep orange-red in the shadows blending to paper white looks wonderful, especially in children. For a man or older person, you might want to add a brownish red in the shadow areas. Make the eyes look real. Really look at your reference.
A good job on his clothes, although again a little weak. A suggestion of dark with a line or two would help.
I hope this helps you.

05-22-2013, 07:03 AM
All of your comments are so helpful, and I needed that. I feel like I can now approach this with some fresh ideas and perspective.

And Suzanne, thanks for your thoughts you shared about the shadows on his garb. I wish you had more sun in your life.

I appreciate everyone's frankness - which is just what I was looking for. I will work more on this and then post the new and hopefully improved painting.

05-25-2013, 03:21 PM
I took a little time off from the painting to give my eyes a hopefully fresh perspective. But I've taken all of your suggestions to serious consideration, and tried to work with what I had (and what I felt comfortable with) to provide a little more contrast, color, and facial interest. I will post shortly in the Watercolor Gallery.

Thanks again for your help, and your candid remarks and expertise. You are all the best!