View Full Version : Fantasy self-portrait WIP - 1st thread here

07-07-2007, 06:16 PM
Hi everyone,

It's the first thread I've started in this forum and I need all help I can get!

I've sketched out the composition as attached - a bit like a quilt, with the portrait bit in the middle. For the background I want to do smoky greens, then yellow roses climbing up to the left and underneath the portrait.

Here's a pic of me to get the idea of the colouring - although the pose is not correct, I'll get some more pics at the weekend, where I'm looking out and work from those plus a mirror, as I would like a likeness (but hey, I've only done 2 portraits before and they were in graphite, so who knows!).

So my first request please for advise, is what colour to have the background for the portrait section? My hair is brown, my skin pale, so I'm thinking somewhere mid-toned to allow contrast, but don't know what colour to make it. The dress in the picture, is what I'll be painting but with the gold toned down!!

All help/comments/criticisms/advice gratefully received.

Many thanks!

Alison2:wave: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jul-2007/43103-fantastypic1.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jul-2007/43103-fantasypic2.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jul-2007/43103-fantasypic3.jpg

07-08-2007, 12:24 AM
I don't paint portraits very often, so can only sit and watch and give you moral support..:)

07-08-2007, 05:57 AM
Hi Alison,
I'm sure it is going to be a very beatiful painting as the model is.
now coming to your queries, what i feel is in your sketch i didnt like the composition. Background is occupying too much space than the person. As it is a portrait i think the foucus should be on the person rather than the bg.

HOwever if u must follow this way then atleast reduce it a bit, just like one in monalisa painting. and regarding colors as u said, brown hair and pale skin colors i thnk it willl be better to use some dark colors for bg as it could neutralize the light and darkness of the total painting.

thats my suggestions. i'm no expert but told u what i think. u wil get some comments from other experts too. they could be help u more.

all the best, would love to see end result.btw wht meduim u r working?


07-08-2007, 05:59 AM
that is so silly of me, off course acrylics. never mind.

Lady Carol
07-08-2007, 09:35 AM
Hi Alison, the best thing about acrylics is that you can adjust the colour once it is laid down. You can always adjust it later. I would start with a neutral colour and work out the rest of it. If it doesn't work then you can easily change it. It is hard to say at this stage as it will be determined by what else is in the painting too.

07-08-2007, 09:47 AM
Hi Alison!

How brave you are to do a portrait in acrylic! I LOVE the idea of a smoky green background with yellow roses. Maybe do it kind of muted so that the portrait stands out in the end :)

Just curious why you're going to downplay the gold on the dress? I rather like it. Can't wait to see this progress! :D


07-08-2007, 10:22 AM
Maybe one day you will paint the photo you posted as I like it too. I'm looking forward to seeing this one and I like the suggestion of making the subject larger because that is what the painting is all about. Good suggestions too on the background colors. You might consider tying in a bit of the colors in the dress into the back ground as well. Good luck!

07-08-2007, 10:36 AM
This will turn into a nice piece.

I agree about the composition of the sketch- it's not nearly as good a design as the photo you're working from, which I like very much. It has a nice narrative quality.

07-21-2007, 09:28 AM
Hi everyone and thanks for joining me on this journey - I really do appreciate it.

Laudesan, your moral support is welcome!

Pix, thank you, I've listened to what you've said and altered the portrait area to make it bigger and more the focus of the piece. I still want to have the green border...but have reduced it!! I appreciate your input - thanks ever so much!

Carol, thanks for your thoughts on the background, that makes a lot of sense! For the moment, I've done as you suggest and just put a neutral creamy colour down in the portrait area, so I'm not working on a totally stark white area. Then as the portrait develops, I'll work on it when I've decided (with everyone's help please!!) what will look best.

Elizabeth, thank you! I'm glad you like the background idea and yes, I think you're right, it will be best to keep that a little muted so the portrait will stand out. With that in mind, I've put some basic greens down as a start, going darker at the bottom, but that's only the first layer. I'll get the portrait down first I think and then build from there. As to why I was going to downplay the gold in the dress, I was frightened of it being a bit much - as I was thinking I'd have to use metallic paint and it might jar the eye. However, having prowled about in a gallery this week and looked at how some artists have handled gold trimmings, there's not a hint of metallic in sight, just clever shades of ochres/browns and yellow/pale highlights. So maybe I'll have a go after all...I do like it on the dress, just was wary I might be able to make it look right. So glad to have you along!

Idcrisis, thanks - you'll see I've made the portrait area bigger, as per your/pix's suggestion - I really appreciate the input. Thanks for liking that photo!! Maybe I will do that one some day, it's just I really wanted to try and get a full face in for this one. (Though if it doesn't look right I might paint it out and revert to this one!!) Thanks too for the tip about the dress colours in the background, I'll do that!

Stapeliad, thank you so much! I hope I can justify your confidence...! I know what you mean about the photo - some others have commented on the same thing, but I wanted a full face. I may not use a photo to work from as I can't find the perfect pose, but photos are good for the dress/colouring etc...and of course there's always a mirror!

So thanks all, and as ever comments/criticisms are positively welcomed, I really value the support and input. I'm pretty slow (working full time etc), but really do listen and learn from the folks here, so hope you'll stick with me. I've already learned from this...canvas is so springy! Most of the acrylic work I've done in the past has been on MDF board, or a very small canvas, so that's a bit of a change! This is about 16 x 20 and I've just put the first layers down for the two backgrounds.

You'll notice the edges between them is not precise!! This is because I plan putting a 'frame,' of sorts there, in branches, which I hope to twine foliage/rosebuds around. I won't do that till I've finished the portrait part, but would ask your thoughts on this...I don't know whether just to paint those branches in, or to use a bit of texture paste, to build the branches up with.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much for being here with me.


07-21-2007, 01:55 PM
Hi, Alison--I just made it over here-apparently, I was looking in the wrong forum!

Pix is right--you are beautiful--the other thing that Pix said was that he did not like the composition of the sketch and it is a bit static. What I DO like is the photograph, the composition of the photo,the costuming is perfect and the most important thing is your hair--

I would put aside the acrylics temporarily and play with planning out the sketch a bit more. I would also do some independent sketches of some of the elements of the images, in particular your hair and the costuming. You can paint your face up to look like a bear but if you dont have the costume right you wont look like a bear, you will look like a person painted as a bear.

Point is you have all the elements in place of a killer painting and working out a prelim sketch puts you definitely skipping down the right path.

1. Try taking some more snaps of yourself in that costume--go back to artists like Waterhouse for instance to get some inspiration--you will see what I mean--he worked from models dressed up in costumes--one of the models was his sister. But his costumes are similar to what you have here.

2. Gray scale your photoimage--you need to do a tonal drawing first to decide where your lightest lights, darkest darks and midtones will be--check out Vemeer and other masters who, mainly to save money on pigments, developed the techniuqe of doing a grisaille or tonal underpainting. Then, they would glaze color over the tonal painting. Something to consider.

3. Study those textures--they are going to be key, along with your hair in the success of this painting. You might want to experiment off the canvas and on some scrap to work out capturing those textures.

This is exciting and I will definitely be sitting down here with my Citrus Peach Fresca in hand.

07-22-2007, 05:11 AM
Hi Alison,

I'm going to be watching this with great interest. You are so pretty, with beautiful hair, and like many others have said, I really love the photo of you that you have posted at the beginning of this Thread. I've pulled up my chair. :clap:

Val. :wave:

Lady Carol
07-22-2007, 09:53 AM
Squidging in next to Val (she has the ANZAC biscuits (cookies). :D

07-23-2007, 05:27 PM
JayD, thanks ever so much for coming along - and some wonderful sound advice from you as ever. I'll take it and play around with some tonal sketches/poses. I really appreciate your input - I'm definitely going to practise hair - I know that'll be a challenge... Am glad you've got supplies on hand, for as you know, I'm mighty slow...

Val, with the above in mind, hope you've got plenty of cookies! Thanks so much for your input and I'm glad you're along for the journey - I'll get there in the end.

Carol, thanks to you too, let's hope the supplies last..I'm glad you're sticking with me!

Weekend ran away, but am working on and will post update as soon as I can!

Thank you all!


09-16-2007, 08:17 PM
Hi everyone,

As usual life has been hectic, but I have suffered a crisis of confidence with this also. I decided to do some 'studies,' before plunging in to the main portrait. I was particularly bothered about my hair. My first study is in graphite and is a full face pose - I wasn't happy about the face (!) but was reasonably pleased about the hair which I had been very worried about. I treated it as masses, which I read somewhere was the thing to do.

I've another hectic week at work but after next week is over should be able to devote a little more time. It's an ongoing journey anyway...but I thought I would share this. I was working mostly from a mirror and a selection of photos rather than one in particular...

All comments and advice gratefully received, thanks for looking!


09-16-2007, 08:37 PM
Nice work and I recognize you too.

09-16-2007, 08:56 PM
It looks great! What a beautiful portrait!

09-17-2007, 10:15 PM
Your graphite portrait is absolutely beautiful You should be very very proud!!

JJ :wave:

09-17-2007, 11:06 PM
Your portrait is lovely. I hope things do slow down for you and you get a chance to just enjoy the artwork.

09-19-2007, 07:01 PM
Hi everyone and thanks for your comments, I really appreciate it!

After the next week or so, I'm hoping to get a little more time so I can start painting...that's the theory anyway...and I've got to conquer the fear!!

Idcrisis - thank you! Slowing down is exactly what I'd like - the pace of life these days is madness! I'm glad you're watching.

Laudesan - thank you, :p I really appreciate that.

Linee - thanks, I'm glad you like it!

Garland - as ever, thanks so much for all your support!

Back as soon as I can and once again thank you all for cheering me on!