Child Portraits — March 2018

I had the pleasure this month of painting two portraits — Tinsley, 9, and James, 6.  Both paintings are small, 12″ x 9″, oil on Raymar panels.

The grandparents, based in Key West, commissioned this works, which are based on reference photos taken by the kids’ mother.

Both paintings presented different challenges. For Tinsley’s, her face was largely in shadow and the iPhone camera’s settings seem to have evened out those shadows, making the face seem flat. For James’s portrait, the primary challenge was the eyes. In the reference photo, they are deep in shadow, making it difficult to see their shapes, not to mention colour. The photo was also focused squarely on the face, whereas Tinsely’s offers a few of her shoulders and long hair. So I had to add a shoulder and more of a torso to James’s portrait.

I began each one with a charcoal drawing and the grisaille underpainting. The panels proved to absorbant, however, and my greys proved overly dark. The consequence for me was that my initial layers of colour were being absorbed into the grey, diminishing their intensity.

But eventually, I overcame these issues and the grandparents were pleased, which is the most important thing to me.

Alan Douglas Ray, "Tinsley", 12" x 9", oil on panel, private collection.

Alan Douglas Ray, "James", 12" x 9", oil on panel, private collection.