View Full Version : Advice needed

08-08-2013, 10:45 PM
I would really like some advice on what I can do to make this painting look better. I'm happy with it but feel like it is lacking something. I would like some pointers on the background in particular. I will include my reference photo so you can see what I'm working with. Thank you in advance, Eric




08-08-2013, 11:25 PM
What a lovely portrait, Eric! She's beautiful! Especially her hair and eyes.

There's really only one thing lacking that I can see... seems like the only real value contrast is her hair. So, at a glance I see 1) hair and 2) everything else. Here is what happens when viewed in grayscale:


But look what happens with boost to the contrast:

And here's what happens with a contrast boost in color:

That's not to suggest that you necessarily have to deepen all the color, just using this to illustrate what more light/dark contrast could do. (I like the delicate color handling overall, it tells a story about this lady.) A few well-placed spots of deeper color might give her more presence without losing the gentle voice this painting has. I'll let the portrait pros suggest exactly where that might be.

I can see why you're happy with this, it's one to be proud of. Hopefully you'd be entirely satisfied with it when all is said and done!

08-09-2013, 06:23 AM
Good advice, I would also emphasize the ground shadows more.


M.L. Schaefer
08-09-2013, 01:39 PM
I have to disagree, somewhat. With the upping of saturation of color, the eye goes directly to the brightest part of the painting, the sweater. Add the deep and detailed sweater next to the white pants, and you have problems with the painting. Her lovely face, the center of interest, is no longer that, it becomes an afterthought. The somewhat: yes, you can deepen some values, but very carefully! Keep that sweater soft and undefined, work on the rest.

You painted her so beautifully! Just plain lovely!

:heart: M.

08-09-2013, 01:47 PM
M and CK.....there must be a happy medium. Aren't we lucky, we work in a happy medium:) :)

I love the Internet...my humor is tolerated or, at worst, ignored. It is just such a grey,rainy day in New Hampshire.

Actually, I do agree with both and Doug's grounding suggestion.

And the portrait and subject are both lovely.

08-09-2013, 04:43 PM
You've painted her face and hair beautifully. I think she needs shadows under her to ground her. (Adding the concrete curb would sit her down or just some grass) I'd put in a wet wash with deep greens (not too deep though) dropped in here and there to signify foliage; that is if you want her sitting outside. I agree somewhat with what both have suggested. Just remember not to over-do the darks so as not to detract from her beautiful face.

08-10-2013, 08:42 PM
Margarete is quite right, and for the record I didn't mean bump up *all* the contrast! Just a bit, placed carefully for best effect.

And Karl: :lol:

08-11-2013, 12:23 PM
I agree with Darla. She looks like she is floating in the clouds. More shadows, more of a difference between the "ground" and the "sky" might also help.

09-02-2013, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the advice. Here is the finished product. Please feel free to tell me what I could have done to make this painting better so I can not only share with you but learn from others.

09-02-2013, 01:50 PM
Super finish, wish you had kept the blue sky.


09-02-2013, 04:27 PM
Try to think more about what you want the portrait to convey first. Then the question of colour and values will become clearer. Looking at the ref...To me the focus would be the hands and rose and her face. Her hair helps to draw attention to her face which is good but her hands and the rose lack value contrasts apart from the very straight green stem. In the reference the rose has a lot more contrast in values which help us focus our attention there. There is also some very nice shadowing on the hand nearest the rose which adds more detail to the hand and again helps us focus there.

Its up to you though. If the focus is more about her smile and the rose is just incidental then you have it right but to me then the dark background doesnt work as well because it feels more moody this way which doesnt go so well if the natural sunny smile is the focus.

Hope this helps for future paintings