View Full Version : Painting Meri-work in progress

02-11-2008, 10:05 AM
Ok, so I'm going to try and paint my daughter. I haven't started yet, but I did pick out a reference(boy was that tough). I'mhoping that by posting this here I won't lollygag like I normally do when I start a painting. And hopefully I can get some help as I do it so I won't have to scrape out like last time!

So here's the reference:

Challenges I foresee are the eyelashes and the hair....any tips?

02-11-2008, 10:17 AM
:wave: Hi Ewin, will follow along, still working on kids pic's myself.

02-11-2008, 11:29 AM
I can understand why you had a tough time picking out which of HUNDREDS of gorgeous photos you have of your photogenic baby. :D This is a terrific one though. I really like how her little mouth almost seems to be saying "ooooooh, Momma."

I am not a portrait painter but I do want to sit in and watch as you paint this. Maybe I'll learn enough to try one myself. Check out Char's paintings of her Granddaughters when they were babies, maybe that will give you some ideas.

Also, check out the Learning Demos link in my signature line and scroll down to the Portraits and People section. There is one by Lynn St. Cyr on a Baby Portrait and several on painting various features such as eyes, nose, HAIR, etc.

I've got a seat in the front row. :D



02-11-2008, 02:44 PM
Emily.... Im so pleased you decided to start on Meri.... I hope this will be one of many paintings of her that we can look forward to :)

Im not in the least suprised you chose that gorgeous pic....there is such wonderful light in it for starters... and her expression is delightful .

The very first thing I'd do would be to look at a greyscale.... and make a note of the light patterns and work on building up those rather than thinking just in terms of eyes, nose mouth.....

That would solve the problems for me of hair and eyelashes... because in grayscale they become part of the overall pattern and Im not tempted to paint individal hairs or lashes!!!

I think the next thing you might think of doing is to do is to decide which style you want to paint her in...... Just looking at a variety of children paintings here will show how different they are....... for instance Char's approach produces very different results from mine...... and then be guided by that approach during your process.............. although the same process doesnt necessarily produce the same result... you only have to look at Aquarelle10's portrait classroom homework thread to realise that !!

One thing that Ive found is that its absolutey critical is to get the positioning of the main features EXACTLY right at an early stage......you can never know how many ears- and eyes- Ive moved in my time :D

You have already done one very charming baby portrait..... so I suggest you start in the same way..... and we'll join in as you go when we see how you are tackling it......and give all the help we can :)

...and remember Have Fun.. its only paoer and not a comission and you will never be short of a good shot of your 'model ' to try out your technique on :)

Cant wait to see this one emerge :)

02-11-2008, 02:48 PM
I have never captured the new babe look well. You are brave but she is so beautiful. You will need to pre plan everything. Thanks for letting us peek in.

02-11-2008, 03:39 PM
Emily, oh brave one.....I'll be here as you progress. I find babies extremely hard but JT does an incredible job and will also be here to help you. ;) (She's adorable)

02-11-2008, 04:37 PM
JT ... will also be here to help you. (She's adorable)

Am I ? Oh Darla .. you are so sweet....:evil:

Sorry I knew exactly what you meant but couldnt resist :lol::lol:

02-11-2008, 06:05 PM
Wow! Meri is such a beautiful child! This is a really good reference photo. I paint my own 3 kids a lot, but I am not yet an expert by any means. Some things that work for me are to underpaint the shadows with a light mixture of ultramarine & quinacridone rose before painting the skin tone. This helps me stay focused. For the eyelashes, I take clean water and a #2 brush and paint a single narrow line where the lashes are, then drop a dark color (I use purple/brown) into the wet area. This makes the lashes look natural and not painted on. I had to try it on scraps a few times before I got it. Have fun painting her! Lora

02-12-2008, 06:43 PM
Hi Emily... little Meri is a beautiful, beautiful baby!

My process involves several steps that most artists don't bother with... I posterize the image to study the simplied and larger shapes. These are really important in establishing form.

Once I feel that I understand the muscle masses, I can greyscale the image to study my values. These are equally important in establishing form.

Then, I draw out the portrait... firstly, I do it fairly small... say on an 8x10 piece of paper... I, personally, need to do this to acquaint myself with my subject... When I'm comfortable with the shape of the mouth, nose and eyes, I draw it again on my wc paper.

I know that all this ^^^ sounds like a LOT of work... it's really not... and now, it takes me less than an hour to get through everything except the final drawing... I take my time with it.

Janet is right... there is absolutely no point in proceeding with your washes if your drawing isn't accurate... The size and placement of your features will affect the final outcome... Some artists can capture that likeness without drawing (or even all the prep work), but I'm not one of them!!! :)

Take your time and enjoy the process... there's no rush... you'll have so much fun watching her come to life on your paper...

02-12-2008, 11:28 PM
Ok, so here is my initial drawing:
I have a few things to tweak that will require me to play in photoshop a bit so I can see how her collar lays on her a little better in the darker side. Open to suggestions on the drawing.

Here is the black and white image:

And here is the posterized version char. Is this what you use to keep a handle on the darks and lights?

Thank you all for your suggestions. I hope to start laying the first layers in the next few days or so. We're supposed to get some snow, so I won't be heading out unless I have to! A good time to paint!

02-13-2008, 05:20 AM
Her little mouth seems to be crooked and off a little in shape. Not sure what it is, but it looks different than in the photo. I love her expression in the photo. ;)

See what others think before you do anything though. You've got some very good painters of children watching this, so see what they say.


02-13-2008, 06:45 AM
H Emily.. great start......

I know otheres jhave a snazzy techinique of overlaying drawing onto photo.. which I cant remember at this time of the morning... but I have put in a few key verticals and horizontals which I hope will help with the positioning of the features especially teh mouth in relatio to nose and eyes :)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Feb-2008/4661-Meri_crop1.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Feb-2008/4661-Meri_crop2.jpg

02-13-2008, 08:01 AM
Your daughter is very beautiful.

I haven't had a lot of experience with portraits, so i am just going to pull up a chair and watch and learn.:)


02-13-2008, 08:10 AM
Jaytee's few simply lines help to pinpoint what it was about the mouth that I was seeing as a little bit off—it looks like it needs to be more directly beneath that wonderful little nose. :D


02-13-2008, 09:50 AM
Yes, I see it! Its tilted not quite right either! You guys rock!!!!

02-13-2008, 10:15 AM
:wave: HI! Ewin, good workup, Snow is an opportunity! she's so paintably cute..

02-13-2008, 11:07 AM
Emily, anxious to see your start to painting Meri's portrait. GREAT drawing.

02-13-2008, 01:08 PM
Okay, so I went back and put in more detail around the neck and I "think" I fixed the lips. I have a hard time judging whether its right or not for some reason.



02-13-2008, 01:19 PM
Ok, so I tried this out in photoshop and it looks to be fairly on. I think I need to tweak a few things(like the little thing that hangs down on her top lip).


02-13-2008, 01:19 PM
btw, I'm not sure I will get much chance to paint today. I think Meri is coming down with a cold. She's been coughing all morning:o(

02-13-2008, 06:36 PM
Emily... poor lamb .. will this be her first cold.... ? Hope shes better soon

I think you still need to take a closer look at the mouth and nose....

difficult to see well under the overlay.... but I think the orange lines may be closer?


I feel the nose is still not quite wide enough, lower lip still a bit too plump... angle of lip divide needs to be steeper..... ???

02-13-2008, 08:02 PM
Pulling up a chair too...who has the chocolate?? :wave:


02-14-2008, 01:00 AM
jaytee, thanks a bunch! I worked on those areas a bit more tonight. I think I've got it(though I feel as though the bottom lip doesn't end so abruptly, rather it fades into the shadow. So I will be paying attention to that detail when the time comes.


02-14-2008, 09:40 AM
oh and jaytee, I meant to say that it is her first cold. I feel pretty lucky to have made it to 6 months without any sickies. She woke up this am early and crying:(

rue d'oak
02-15-2008, 05:40 PM
Just the other day I did a portrait for Mimi's Valentine thread. And I have to say how much I appreciate the impact of a tiny change in shadow or line -- it so changes the likeness. It is SO HARD to get it right. That is, really look like someone. I think I do a lot of portraits of the subject's sister or brother. :lol: Resemblance is there, but not the exact likeness. :evil:

So I really appreciate the effort you are making, Ewin, to get the nose and lip just right. What an ideal, sweet pose for a beautiful baby. :heart:


02-16-2008, 07:03 PM
This is so interesting so I will also be watching. I painted my 5 great grandchildren last summer but in oils. They turned out ok, but I don't think my daughters thought they were that good. I find it informative how you used the lines for the eye and mouth placement. Never too old to learn and this is fun..........Lenore

Blue Pencil
02-18-2008, 01:05 PM
interesting way to approach this painting
looking forward to seeing more

02-18-2008, 11:47 PM
Thanks all. I had a last minute hurry-up commission that kept me from this. BUt I had a few moments today to start painting. In all my paintings I like to start with the eyes. I don't know why I do, but I do. And while those dried I started in on the dress. I think I went a little dark, but we'll see about that as the painting progresses:
and a closeup of the eyes:

02-19-2008, 05:48 AM
Emily....... so glad youve started pinting Meri at last :)..... watching with interest..... especially as your approach is so different from mine.......you are starting where I usually finish :D

02-19-2008, 06:46 AM
Now we'll get to watch little Meri come to life on our screens. :D


02-19-2008, 08:55 PM
Thanks guys. I got a little more done this afternoon during naptime. Don't worry, the hard edges probably won't stay. We'll see, next time I sit down!


02-19-2008, 11:02 PM
Looks good so far...I paint during naptime, too. That's what I like about watercolor - it's easy to put down and come back to - which is a must with little ones in the house. Lora

02-20-2008, 10:02 AM
Great so far Emily! Was waiting for the start of this ;)

02-20-2008, 03:09 PM
I have converted all your photobucket images to uploaded ones Emily.


02-20-2008, 04:42 PM
Thanks Doug, I appreciate it. Here are the results of this mornings nap:


This is my second time painting on fabriano hotpressed 300 lb. paper. I'm not sure I like it compared to arches. I've found that the paint bleeds further than I like compared to arches. Though sometimes this is nice. I guess the jury is still out for me...

02-20-2008, 05:21 PM
Fascinating to watch.....coming along beautifully .... and looking like Meri already :)

02-20-2008, 06:54 PM
Thanks Jaytee. I got a bit more in during the afternoon nap. I added the background which is a mix of the toucan triad with prussian blue. Makes for a nice dark don't you think!

02-20-2008, 07:01 PM
ANd a closeup of her features:

Valri Ary
02-20-2008, 07:11 PM
I feel your pain with a different paper...I am a true fan of arches but wander from time to time but always come back! I am eagerly watching the progress here. And I will be back!!

02-20-2008, 07:25 PM
Wonderful background.. and I love the touches of it n teh ribbons(?) on her dress.. and just a hint in her eyes do I perhaps see ?... thanks for the close-up.. those features really working now :)

02-20-2008, 11:45 PM
Ok, had a nice stretch of time to paint. I'm stopping now for the night though. Have a few things to touch up. But here she is, almost done(at least in my eyes).



02-20-2008, 11:49 PM
Wowsers.......she is beautiful!!!!!


02-20-2008, 11:58 PM
Thanks so much JJ. This has been so much fun to paint her. I'm already planning my next one(even though she's not quite done yet).

02-21-2008, 04:22 AM
Beautiful work Emily, thanks for using the Uploader.

You have succeeded in capturing the enquiring look of your beautiful baby.


02-21-2008, 05:36 AM
Lovely painting, Ewin. You've captured her beautiful look so well, including that tiny little rosebud mouth. Good job on the dress and background.


02-21-2008, 09:06 AM
Emily... you have captured a cutie :)

I talked earlier about styles......... and I LOVE this just as it is.... the only observations i can now make are what I might be tweaking if I had only the photo and not the real life model to go by !!

So please view them only as observations and not critcisms........ OK?

Going back to the original photo..... I would now be looking at...

* putting more highlights into teh eyes

* softening the edge of her hair to give that 'whispy baby hair catching the sun' effect

* softening that hard line on her right (our left) cheek (draws too much attention to itself for me)

* looking at softening the under chin lines

But doing that would be turning it into one of my portraits not yours...... :)

And, as her mum, you must be the final judge of the finished likeness........

I think youv'e done a wonderful job... and look forward to many more charting your gorgeous daughters progress........

Well Done !!

02-21-2008, 09:41 AM
She's so cute Emily and I was going to say soften her hair and the hard edge on her cheek too. I too feel she needs a bit more highlight in the eyes too. Other than that she's DONE! WOW....you sure captured her sweet demeanor.:clap: :clap: :thumbsup:

02-21-2008, 10:14 AM
Doug, not a problem! And thanks for commenting.

Sylvia, thank you so much. Now I am happy I went back and redid the mouth in the drawing. It really has made quite the difference in the painting for me. It sure gave me more confidence knowing the features were all in the right place.

That's why I set this aside for the evening instead of moving forward(even though I didn't sleep well thinking about finishing it). I didn't want my ambition to finish to mess it up. I was thinking about putting more highlights in the eyes. My only problem is this dang paper doesn't lift paint out well. AND, I tried scraping out on a different painting and the results were disastrous. I can't seem to describe what happened, but basically more came off without much scraping than I would have like. So we'll see. Maybe it was all in my technique and I just need a lighter hand at it. I was also thinking about softening the hair by painting a clear wash over it. I definitely agree that it doesn't necessarily look like the baby fine fuzzy head of hair that she has. And the cheek, I will hopefully tackle all these today. I have to admit, I'm giddily pleased with how her dress turned out. Though there are a few things more I need to do with it(and what kept me up a bit last night). Hopefully I'll be back with the finished product after the morning nap!

Darla, thanks so much. I really couldn't sleep well last night for want of finishing this. I'm really excited to share it with my mom. She loves my dog paintings, but I know she'll love seeing one of her grand-daughter more.

02-21-2008, 01:49 PM
Ok, did a lot of softening(as much as I could). And I even stopped being a ninny about scratching out some highlights in her eye. I just did it very lightly and it seemed to help not ruin the paper! Let me know your thoughts. I think she's done, but then again I've been staring at it non-stop, so I may miss something. I appreciate your input!

Here's the reference once again for easy comparison:

Eyes closeup:

Dress closeup:

02-21-2008, 01:57 PM
Emily, fantastic painting! It will by cherished by your whole family!


02-21-2008, 02:03 PM
Stunning! :clap: :clap:


02-21-2008, 02:05 PM
Thanks so much Patty!

02-21-2008, 02:07 PM
Thanks so much Doug!

02-21-2008, 02:08 PM
Emily .... great... almost there.. a little more shadow on teh rhs ( our L) of her nose to shape and just under the same side ... and soften the dark nostrils sides of the nose and make them slightly pinker....

then sign date and frame :)

02-21-2008, 03:33 PM
Thanks Jaytee. Made your suggested changes.

02-21-2008, 04:21 PM
you've kept the sweet babiness here, excellent!

02-21-2008, 04:28 PM
WHOOHOO, you've finished Meri really WONDERFULLY Emily!! You must be so proud....not only of your gorgeous daughter but of your BEAUTIFUL portrait of her!!:thumbsup:

02-21-2008, 04:41 PM
Love the revisions, Ewin! Now she is softened up and ready for the frame (but don't forget to sign it first).

Think I'll give you a Merit Point for today and Jaytee a Mentor Point for helping with her advice in making this little gem come to life.

:clap: :clap:


02-21-2008, 04:49 PM
Awww, what a sweet painting! I really like the softness of her cheeks and mouth. I enjoyed following the work in progress.

02-21-2008, 05:13 PM
Ral, thanks so much!

Darla, thank you as well. I really appreciate your comments!

Sylvia, I appreciate your help and for cheering me on! There will be certainly more to come of her(and maybe Scout). And wow, its my first merit point. I feel so giddy!

Lora, thanks so much. I perused your website a few nights ago, and I really love your work. Especially your portraits. Thanks so much for your comments and cheering me on!

02-21-2008, 06:47 PM
You really have painted your daughter beautifully, but I do think you need to soften the lines on the outside of her nostrils and the darks inside her nostrils and make them pink.

Other than that she is gorgeous!!


02-21-2008, 07:01 PM
Thanks JJ, I'll see what I can do. I did try softening the nostrils already, not sure I can get them any lighter with scraping out. Maybe I'll give it another try once meri goes off to bed.

02-21-2008, 07:47 PM
I don't do watercolors but I think it is a wonderful portrait and you should feel very proud. you did a wonderful job..

02-21-2008, 10:58 PM
Thank you Barbara!

02-22-2008, 11:07 AM
:wave: HI! Emily, Beautifully done, so natural and soft! Thanks for sharing your progress, you are right your Mom is going to love this! as well as Meri someday, love her wonderful expression and the naturalness of the pose!:thumbsup:

02-22-2008, 12:30 PM
JJ, I tried to lighten the nostrils so no avail. I will just have to keep it in mind for the next portrait. I really appreciate your input! I'm off to post it in the Gallery. Thanks so much again!

mgthorvaldsen, Thanks so much!

02-22-2008, 03:13 PM
Emily - That's really, really precious!! You have captured that sweet innocence of expression in a child.

This is sure to be a treasure!


02-22-2008, 03:16 PM
Thank you for sharing, she is adorable...........Lenore

Ms. Gee
02-22-2008, 11:52 PM
Beautiful painting. Amazing likeness. Bang-up job on that blouse!

Congratulations! :clap: :clap: :clap: