After painting my first portrait of Jim & Fredo, I wanted to paint more people. I had this image of my sister and brother-in-law that I snuck from above as they were watching tv. It was an odd perspective and it caught a moment of unconscious, everyday love between two people. I took it as a challenge to see if I could recreate that intimacy on canvas.
I spent over 5 months on this 12" by 16" painting. I worked on it in secret while I also worked on another commission, Rose Apples. I allowed time to work out solutions in my mind for each new complication before putting more paint on canvas.
Below is the evolution of a painting in words and images.
It started with a sketch. As you can see, proportions were off but it gave me confidence I could sketch it out on canvas.
I got the proportions right with the couple, but the rest of it...?
Marked in some detail but how do I make the rest of the painting as interesting as the couple? In the upper left corner, you can see the beam that supports the second floor but it blends in with the floor and doesn't make sense. The floor planks weren't right either, too intense?
I was really pleased with the jeans and the shirt.
Another correcting phase, using chalk to fix some perspective errors. I balanced out the furniture, toned down the floor planks, and wiped out the lamp that was throwing me off. Still thinking about all the red and how it felt bottom heavy.
I put my worries about the overall composition aside and focused again on the couple. The skin-tones, hair and the folds in their clothes are starting to come together.
A few more details in the furniture and Ed's cords. The composition is still off balance and flat. Ed's face is getting as red as the floor.
Finally, a solution to the composition and mood problem! I started with some shadows around the furniture and painted in the lamp and remotes. Then came the eureka moment to turn the dark paint into a glaze. I increased the size of the beam in the corner and darkened that whole area to bring the eye down to the couple. I added some glow to the lamp and the highlight on the edge of the beam and my work here was done.
I became quite attached to this painting over the five months it took to complete. I even splurged on a custom frame. The red pinstripe detailing that matched the painting kept the focus inside the frame. I had a very hard time deciding whether I was going to give it to my sister or keep it for myself.
What do you think? Would you keep it or give it away?
Did you enjoy this evolution journey? Would you like to see more work in progress blogs? I'd love to hear your comments.