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Old 05-07-2012, 10:58 PM
edf edf is offline
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WIP - First Ride

This is a 20 x 24 oil on a canvas panel of a cousin at the time of her first sitting on a horse in 1972. From that time (40 years ago) she has pursued equestrian studies in England, jumped professionally and has been teaching autistic children while using riding as an intervention vehicle for their education and needs. Mother is holding her on while she is sitting on Princess, Mothers favorite riding horse. I am doing this as a gift and wanted to do something in the context of her love of horses and her continued close relationship to her Aunt Joyce. This is after about 8 hours of effort. My very apparent weakness is getting her hand right. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 05-07-2012, 11:23 PM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

The reference photo.

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Old 05-08-2012, 03:46 AM
jonc50 jonc50 is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

"My very apparent weakness is getting her hand right"

If you look closely at the referrence photo, you will see the heel of her right hand is resting on the rear edge of the saddle. Your depiction has the arm running right through to the start of the fingers.
The subtle shadows at the bottom of her two fingers closest to her thumb show the bend in the digits. If you work on this it should make a difference in the hand detail.
Her other hand is very washed out in the photo and not showing the details as well. Perhaps if you tried making a copy of the photo and then with your basic computer program seeing if you can darken the photo slightly to bring some detail to the referrence photo (while retaining the one you are showing). It is worth a try if you haven't tried it. The other option is to take a referrence photo of a hand in that flat position at that level and configuration just as a better source of referrence.

Great start!
Jon C.

Last edited by jonc50 : 05-08-2012 at 03:48 AM. Reason: Italics not working.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:01 AM
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Re: WIP - First Ride

I would also suggest softening those hard edges of the face- and to soften the hair and the eyes- and the left ear is too large.
You have done well to work with such a difficult photo.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:33 PM
kentiessen kentiessen is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

There are many challenges here! You must find a good overall balance with the edges-

Both hands are an issue- the fingers of the close one do curl under which will allow for proper length (also be sure to place the wrist), and the far one is so light in the reference as to be invisible (it is most likely resting on the 'swell' part of the saddle from which the horn rises).

Some individual drawing studies of tricky areas will help you navigate them with less difficulty.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:42 PM
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Wassie Wassie is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

I agree with all of the above. I noticed the mouth which you have painted turning down at the corners, making her look "sour." I think in the photo they are more straight. Soften the corners and soften the outline of her eyes. Also, I think the ear on the viewer's left is not that large and is covered softly with hair. You have done quite well with a terrible ref photo.
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Old 05-10-2012, 02:00 PM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

Thusfar after another shot at it. My wife still thinks she has Demon eyes and I need to lighten the orbits somewhat. What I don't want to do is lose the constrasting shadow and face details.

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Old 05-11-2012, 07:56 AM
kentiessen kentiessen is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

Your wife is correct here- the contrasts around the eyes are too strong (whites and highlights of the eyes bright, and the shading around them dark). You may lighten the shadow surrounding the nose as well.

The hairline will always have soft edges, especially with the wispy hair that young children have- your handling at her right temple better because of this.
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:09 AM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

Finished off the tack and saddle and what I believe is the finished facial features. Now only the hands and a few spots here and there.

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Old 05-15-2012, 02:49 PM
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Re: WIP - First Ride

that is a tough photo to work from! You've done well with such a fuzzy reference.
One thing that i do FIRST is to figure out where the light is coming from. In this case, from the upper left. Knowing that will help me sometimes to make sense of shadows or values and help me to construct the planes of something in reference to the light, even if I can't see it real clearly in life or a photo.

If you take a look at your photo, you'll see a cast shadow from her arm across her shirt that could be a bit more defined, as well as a few of the wrinkles and folds of clothing that catch the light and have shadows. Doing this might help create a sense of the sunlight that is hitting her.

All in all, though, I think you've handled it well, and made great improvements over the first take!
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:27 PM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

MtnRnr: I'll definitely be enhancing the shadows as you suggested. That will meaningfully suggest the direction of light and compliment the facial shadows I've tried to capture.

Thanks to all of you for your insights and suggestions.

This last photo is more bluish than the actual painting. I'll color correct the last one before loading.

One thing I that has continually impressed me over the recent months is the need for good portrait grade canvas to work on. I've had it with trash bin plywood and walmart canvas panels!

Now to another issue; i.e. my six year old stuffing toilets at kindergarten. If you see a mushroom cloud over the south eastern seaboard you'll know the reason...
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:38 PM
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Re: WIP - First Ride

Well, I can't help you with the six year old, but as for cheap canvases..
Nothing is better than oil primed linen. Only problem is, nothing is more expensive than oil primed linen. I have found my way around that with two "tricks".

I buy Centurion Oil Primed linen - you can get it in rolls or, even easier, and not expensive, in pads of 10 sheets of various sizes. This is good quality linen and nice to paint on, but reasonably priced.
I buy a sheet of either good finish grade plywood or masonite - $20 for 4'x8'
Cut this into whatever sizes you want, and glue the linen to it.. makes a great painting surface, and, even for larger sizes, you're not spending more than about $3 each.

Another trick is to take lesser quality canvas and prime it again. You can get some pretty good results with even cheapo canvas - might take two coats, but it's easy and makes a HUGE difference.

I use lead white (has to be real lead white - look for, I think, PB3, in the ingredients.) Winsor Newton Flake White is one.
Mix half lead white and half medium (liquin works) on a palette and once that's good and mixed up, apply thinly to the canvas using a large palette knife.. very thin, scraping along, just filling in the little holes in the weave. I usually take a big, soft brush after to smooth out any ridges. Let that dry and you will love it. Real cheap canvas might need two coats.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:44 PM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnrunner
Well, I can't help you with the six year old, but as for cheap canvases..
Nothing is better than oil primed linen. Only problem is, nothing is more expensive than oil primed linen. I have found my way around that with two "tricks".

I buy Centurion Oil Primed linen - you can get it in rolls or, even easier, and not expensive, in pads of 10 sheets of various sizes. This is good quality linen and nice to paint on, but reasonably priced.
I buy a sheet of either good finish grade plywood or masonite - $20 for 4'x8'
Cut this into whatever sizes you want, and glue the linen to it.. makes a great painting surface, and, even for larger sizes, you're not spending more than about $3 each.

Another trick is to take lesser quality canvas and prime it again. You can get some pretty good results with even cheapo canvas - might take two coats, but it's easy and makes a HUGE difference.

I use lead white (has to be real lead white - look for, I think, PB3, in the ingredients.) Winsor Newton Flake White is one.
Mix half lead white and half medium (liquin works) on a palette and once that's good and mixed up, apply thinly to the canvas using a large palette knife.. very thin, scraping along, just filling in the little holes in the weave. I usually take a big, soft brush after to smooth out any ridges. Let that dry and you will love it. Real cheap canvas might need two coats.

I appreciate these suggestions on preparing canvas, especially that of using Centurion products. Never thought of filling in heavily textured low quality canvas with white lead. I'll do that with those panels I have remaining. Anything to smooth out the surface.

After the restoration of a family home I was given several sheets of luan, which I have gessoed to death in hopes of improving it. However, the fine grooves in the surface still cause paint to "bleed". I'm moving out of the rank beginner skill set (at least in my wife's eyes) and I'll be taking the materials I use another grade higher as well. Hopefully that will cut out the "Don't you need to fix...?" responses. Again, thank you for taking the time to help improve my efforts.
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:52 PM
edf edf is offline
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Re: WIP - First Ride

I think I'll call this finished...Thank you all for your help and guidance.

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Old 05-20-2012, 02:14 PM
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Re: WIP - First Ride

I'd soften the lines under the eyes and most importantly, lighten the pupils of her eyes. They still are quite pronounced. This will take the "demon look" out and become more subtle. The poor child looks frightened to death! Were it mine, I'd also soften the skin tones so that there isn't such a value difference in the face and soften/blend the hair onto the forehead a bit more, especially on the right.
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