View Full Version : Tommy's Portrait

08-31-2004, 01:27 AM
I would love feedback from any who do portaits in pastels. This is my second attempt at a portrait, and I would appreciate help with features, skin tones and just about everything else. I have half a million pastels, but I don't seem to have the right one for highlighting blonde hair.

After hearing from Cori, I tweaked this one a little and I'm posting anew in the hopes that others will see it and comment (and I can push the post containing my 1st attempt farther back in the line.)

9 x 12 Wallis

Sherry (and I promise I won't post this one again)


08-31-2004, 01:42 AM
This is your second attempt??? wow :clap: :clap:
I've only just started in pastel, and I'm hoping to be able to do portraits. I love the skin tone! I'll be watching your posts and hopefully you'll do a WIP so I can learn something ;)


08-31-2004, 10:24 AM
[QUOTE=emmachester](and I can push the post containing my 1st attempt farther back in the line.)

lol...too funny

His eyes look MUCH BETTER! He doesn't look completely startled anymore. Are you happier with them now?

08-31-2004, 11:38 AM
Much better, Sherry, and bet you're happier, too. If you post the reference pic, we can help more specifically. Right now, he looks jes' a tad flat-featured- but if we can see his face "in real", we can show you where you need to increase contrast- either with values or warm/cool tones- to give his face the proper volume.

09-01-2004, 12:21 AM
SBJ---Here is the reference photo. My goal wasn't so much to capture his resemblence, but rather to get realistic skin tones. I agree it looks flat, but I got to a point where the colors looked pretty good and I was afraid to keep going. The scan makes the skin look lighter than it is in the painting. I was unsure how to lighten it any more. The skin underpainting was blue, with yellow and peach and other assorted colors on top.

Jenni and Cori--thanks for the feedback.

Thanks for looking.



09-01-2004, 12:55 AM
Skin's difficult- run a search for some of bnoonan's works (Barb)- she can do skin like nobody's business. Dark_Shades (Dawn) is good, too- they both have a very good colour sense with skin. Give their work a look-see and study it some for ideas of how to incorporate colour.

However, the reason Tommy looks kinda flat is the values are too light. It's a very common fear when you first start in pastels: "Afraid of the darks". But you should keep two things in mind: It is easy to lighten a too dark area- far easier than darkening a too light area; and, (this is a direct Kitty Wallis quote) "If white isn't light enough, you need more darks". Makes sense, doesn't it? But, especially with skin, we're afraid to go in with a dark colour because, well, skin isn't dark blue or purple or red- it's, well- light peach or warm brown or something- EVERYONE knows that, right?

Unfortunately, that rarely translates well to pastels. So, you gotta go darker.

I took the ref photo into psp and turned it to grayscale to show you what I mean. Here is the ref photo, and your piece, also in grayscale:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Sep-2004/9169-Tgs01.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Sep-2004/9169-Tgs02.jpg

You can see looking at the photo and then your piece, you need something to darken around the face, and give a bit more volume to the features. *Usually* that's a blue-to-red-to-pinky combination- but you gotta really look to see for yourself. To show you, I did some grayscale work- and trust me, I'm no good with a mouse, but you can see I've gotten better values across and around the face, so that now, the lightest areas- the tip of the nose and the bottom round of the cheek muscle- show up and give a more 3-dimensional appearance.

Don't be afraid of the darks- they're what make your lights *pop*.

09-02-2004, 12:23 AM
SBJ--thanks for the mini-workshop. I just barely got the photo posted and you shot back with the grayscales--man, no moss grows under you. You're fast.

I guess the lesson is: "go towards the darks!" It takes a leap of faith, but I'm going to give it a shot. I also think I lost his jaw line because I was so freaked about blending the blue into oblivion. (say that fast) Thanks for the help.


09-02-2004, 12:45 AM
You're blending on Wallis? Ouch! I have a callous on my little fingertip from trying that- taught me right quick-like NOT to blend- serum fluids and pastel don't mix. And blood is not archival.

Just use a brush and brush away the jawline, then use a DARK pastel and lay in the proper jawline shape. Now use the pastels on their sides and sweep in colour- probably a mid- blue, and a dark pink with a smidge of brown- just a smidge. Keep the blue way out at the sides, then the pink and brown, and right along where the shadow changes to a lighter area, another sweep of pink. Try NOT to blend- instead, layer the colours over and over each other until they start blending themselves (kinda the way bread dough will ball itself up when you have enough flour added, okay?) Now- step back- even three feet will do- and look at it- if you've put more'n two layers on that area, they should be starting to blend themselves. If you REALLY MUST BLEND- try using a hard pastel (NuPastel or CreataColor) on it's side- use a colour which "goes with" what you have (so, if the area is leaning to a purple, don't use an orange, eh? Save that till you're really good at this not-blending. A medium dark blue would work)

For volume in the face itself- around the nose and eyes, I'd prolly use darker lavenders (more blue than red) light blues, and orange-y reds, and some medium dirty greens- oddly enough, a lot of the darker areas of skintones are olive coloured even in babies. And, here's a little clue: Where a shadow on skin meets a lit area, there is *usually* a thin band of red- if you use a dark pink to mimic that, you'll get a more natural looking shift there.

Did I tell you that halo is great? If not, that halo is GREAT! He's going to come along fine now- and I think you and I should discuss a trip to Daniel Smiths in Port Townsend here pretty quick- I'll buy lunch.

09-02-2004, 01:17 AM
"I have half a million pastels, but I don't seem to have the right one ......."

haha...I seem to have this problem with every painting. You've certainly captured an angelic feel to your subject.

09-02-2004, 01:23 AM
My gawd, woman, you are fast. Your house must be immaculate. If I was taking an hour-long typing test, I couldn't even type as much as you just did in a short span of 22 minutes (or less.)

And yes, I use my fingers (but only after I lay down one layer) and yes, my hands are absolutely raw. After a weekend of pasteling, I have to stay at least 3 feet away from lemons. In my defense, I mostly use Nupastels to blend.

There's a Daniel Smith in Port Townsend? My beloved Daniel Smith store in Silverdale just closed a month ago, but I will drive just about anywhere to buy art supplies. We'll have to find something in between us.

Thanks again for the tips. You know, you could charge for this.


09-02-2004, 11:51 AM
ut-oh- I lied- it isn't Port Townsend, it's Port Orchard, so that's Silverdale, and you say it CLOSED?!? I'm bereft!! I don't wanna drive all the way 'round to Seattle or Bellevue!


'Least I still get their catalogue- soothes me some (but not as much as the immediate gratification of actually *shopping*).

Guess I'll just have to be extra fast making pastels in Kitty's class this month to make up for missing out on Dan'l's- I have a bit of experience with rolling... ummm... things- we'll have to see if I still have the touch. (I'm pretty good at falling off a bicycle, so I prolly have a head start, right? A log? Not a bicycle? ahh well- one of the two....)

Now off I go to grocery shop- which gives me the perfect excuse for not cleaning house- a silver lining, of sorts.