View Full Version : Riley

09-05-2013, 02:42 PM
This is done on 6"x8" La Carte pastel card with mostly Rembrandt sticks and Faber-Castell Pitt pencils for the finer detail. The face in the painting is not as pink as it appears in this photo. The colour is closer to the reference photo. I am thinking the background is a bit dark but your C&C's are very welcome. Bob
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Sep-2013/1154176-Riley_painting.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Sep-2013/1154176-Riley_orig.jpg

09-05-2013, 03:07 PM
first off, you have her likeness very well. there is a warmth that jumps from your painting that shows your love for the subject.

A few random thoughts/notes:

1) the hair you have put down the (viewer's) left side...in the photo that is from a different girl (behind her). It doesnt look out of place but I think if you had kept that side (her shoulder) without the extra hair it would have made the composition work better.

2) you've done well with the reference photo but you'd find that better reference to begin with would make things a little easier on yourself. This one is quite dark and has unflattering shadows. You've managed to work around them but I think you would have an easier time if she wasnt back/side lit like this photo.

3) I dont mind the darkness of the background, but dont be afraid to add a little of your foreground colour to the background - to try to make them work a little more in unison.

4) I would recommend that you try working larger for portraits - certainly in a realistic style like this. 6 x 8 is very small when you start getting into details and I think you're making it a lot harder on yourself with such a small size. I usually wont attempt portraits in pastel unless it is at least 12 x 16"

Overall a very nice effort & Im sure your model will be very proud with the representation :)

09-05-2013, 06:20 PM
to me , the ref pix is a great challenge , and
your adaptation is sensible . :)

if time/circumstance/enthusiasm allow , this may be a good point/time to set this aside for a day or so .
- some adjustments may be more obvious with a fresh look ,
and , as Justin suggests , perhaps a larger support(surface) .

the b/g + value is okay to me , and the reflected natural light on her right side ( our left ) has
important elements for the sense of mass/shape/' sculpture ' , if that is part of your objective .

hope this is useful for you . :)


09-07-2013, 01:05 AM
I am hopeless at portraits so not the best judge you have done a great job of reducing the shadows but the distance between the inside edge of her eyes and eyebrows maybe looks too wide? Trudi

09-07-2013, 06:08 AM
Justin: thank you for your comments. The smaller size is difficult but this is the first of 4 paintings of a friends grand children and he didn't have the the wall space for a larger format. I incorporated your suggestion about removing her hair down her right arm (our left). Another of your suggestions was to add forground color (pink I assume) to the background. Hard to tell from my photo of the painting but the background is a green-grey chosen as a compliment to the pink. When I tried to add pink to the background it made grey of course.

Ed: I always enjoy and take your suggestions to heart. I put the painting aside for a few days and pondered Justin's suggestions and used Gimp to play with the changes. The reflected light on her right cheek was from her shirt and was intentional but your comment made me look at it a bit harder and I decided to diminish is some plus added a touch of it along her chin line as well. Thank you for your comments.

Trudi: I appreciate your comments. A fresh pair of artistic eyes can see things much clearer than I can. I went back to the ref pic and measured but the corner of the eyes were in the correct position. I could see what you were saying so I did a few things that I hope improves that area. I moved the shadow on the nose further to the right (closer to the center). I brightened the white of the eye on her right eye which made it look larger. I increased the brow shadow which made the eyebrows appear closer.

Below is a fresh photo of the painting. The colours of the photo still do not match the colour of the painting (its to pink) but at least you can preview the changes. Thank you all for your valued help. Bob

09-10-2013, 03:23 PM
I don't mind the background, dark backgrounds can work rather well with portraits. You've done a nice job on her hair, and the shirt as well. I do think you might need to tweak the drawing before getting into too much detail. Here are my thoughts:

At first I thought the ear was too low, but after further observations I think you have her nose too long (which will then bring the ear too low). Take a look at my notes:


Look at the position of her eyebrow on our left side. Also look at the corner of her mouth on our left side, might be too wide. See where it ends up relative to her eye above it. That middle rectangle is considerably longer than in the photo reference which would make the nose too long. Also look at her nostrils, make sure they are level. I would also consider toning down the teeth a tad, it usually works well in portraits when you do that.

On our left side of her face there is a considerable shadow, you might want to put that in. It will give some interest and form to the face. The left side by her chin isn't light, it's reflected light, which is very different. I believe you've got that area too light in value. Like I said, the left side of her entire face should be darker as it is in shadow. Look closely at where the shadows are and don't be afraid to put them in. The left side of her nose is much darker in the photo, and that's a good thing to use in the painting.

This is a difficult post to pull off, you've got a good start here!

09-11-2013, 05:01 AM
Chris, thank you for your suggestions. Something did not look quite right to me and I could not tell what it was. Your markup truly helps me see where the sketch was off. I've always had an issue with putting the darks in faces. I will give it a go to strengthen them. Bob

09-11-2013, 05:36 AM

09-11-2013, 02:28 PM
The first thing that strikes me is something about the eyes, tho I am not a portrait painter and am not sure how you would sort this out.

In the photo, there is a cheeky quality to her; she is in fact glancing UP at the camera.

In the painting, she seems to be looking slightly down,or almost out and across rather than up.

Her eyes look contemplative and even slightly sad, when you cover her smile.

In the photo, I get a strong sense of the lovely shape of her face; in your painting, her face is flattened - there is a right-hand change of plane receding back to the ear - the sense of that is somewhat lost, giving her a more round, moon-shaped face.

You have a sense of who this child is, but as you say, there is something not quite right - it is all very subtle. But very difficult to achieve, I suspect.

Tricky problems. In your shoes, I would find easier reference!!!

09-11-2013, 03:06 PM
Jackie, I could not agree with you more. Someone might describe the smile in the painting as a wan, whereas as you described the photo as cheeky. for the longest time I worked on the mouth but as we know a smile always transfers to the eyes. As you said, any little change in the face can have significant impact on the emotion that is conveyed. With yours and Chris's suggestions I have much to do. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Bob

09-12-2013, 06:53 AM
Bob, one of the things you need to think about is the way the underlying muscles of the face work, when someone smiles. Stand in front of a mirror, smile, and WATCH what happens. You can even put your own hands onto your own face, and feel what happens. It is an interesting exercise!

The muscles in the cheek bunch UP for starters...sometimes causing a little bulge under the eye, above the cheek muscle - it is there in the photo but I dont get a sense of that in the painting.

The smile pulls the muscles to the side of the mouth causing a deeper crease. Again, that is somehow lost.

The eyes narrow and eyebrows sometimes rise slightly - there is a quizzical half-raised eyebrow thing going on, in that face, that you have missed.

I am not sure how useful you would find this: http://face-and-emotion.com/dataface/expression/muscles.jsp

There is a good reason why painters of old rarely, if ever, painted smiling faces!

09-13-2013, 04:56 AM
Jackie, once again thank you very much for your support. It's wonderful having other artists provide such great help. Bob