Here is the latest view of Georgie’s lovely face. Since the last update I posted I’ve been working on the detailed areas, tightening up the patterns on her face especially, and working out the rest of her shape.
I actually sent an interim version of updates to the customer as I was working out the details in her face, and she pointed out something I had missed, and something that’s a common hazard of working from photos—even when you get to meet the subject.
I’ve been working on tightening up the details in Georgie’s portrait, especially around her face, which will be the most detailed area of the finished portrait. I’ve included the first update at right for reference for where I left off the last time.
We’re planning this portrait to focus on her face and then the rest of her, but for the toys and the background not to be as detailed as her. I will continue to work her face in greater detail, even from this point.
Several things were obvious the last time, most notably her eye color. I like to underlay areas of portraits with either complimentary colors or more vivid shades of the native color to give more depth and dimension to a portrait. However, I’m not accustomed to the intensity of these new pastels and while I loved the color I had layered too much in place and had a dickens of a time using it as an underlay. Each time I added the cooler softer greens to her eyes I’d be pleased with what I saw, walk away to refresh my perceptions, come back and find they were still too bright! It just took a little longer to get them to resemble Georgie’s soft sea-green color, though, and the little bits of actual Nile green you can see add to the dimensional quality of her eyes while what’s under the top layer of color helps to brighten it.
I also tightened up the details of her ears to finalize the shape and larger areas of color and shadow, though much of the ear detail with come at the end because she has such deluxe ear hair.
I’m building the fur on her face, the short fur around the eyes and nose with no underfur where the agouti is most apparent in layers of color areas, then working in the details of individual areas. She has a very distinctive “M” on her forehead which needed to be made more clear. From there it’s working in the transition between the short fur on her face and the areas where it begins to grow longer but still doesn’t have too much of an undercoat as there is on her torso, around her muzzle and chin, the sides of her face below her ears, and the top of her head. I picture running my fingers through that fur, remembering what it feels like, and it helps me to work the texture correctly.
I’ve also worked in the rest of her torso, adding the stripes in her side and on her tail that are mixed in with her long fur. I plumed out her tail a little more, though I still don’t think it’s quite long enough. Seeing her in person it looks a little shorter, but that’s only because it’s a little thinner with her age. I have photos from younger years for the full effect of her big tail.
Her big ruff is still a little too colorful, but I want to work the rest of her torso before I finalize the color and mix of highlight and shadow in that area.
Those pink and red toys are working in okay and look balanced now that the rest of her is more detailed. Sometimes it just works out that way.
But in the process of all this I undid her paws—well, that’s for the next round.
See the first draft of the portrait and read about Georgie.
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One of my newest portraits is Georgie, decidedly the princess of her household!
This is the result of my first session, and I just love the energy of these early portraits with loose details and big strokes; it’s also my first session with my new Sennelier pastels and I largely attribute my satisfaction with this proof compared to past portraits at this point to the colors, texture and quality of my new pastels—more on those in another article.
But at this point I can tell if the portrait is on its way if I can see the finished work my customer and I discussed and, more importantly, feel the subject in it at this early stage, and I definitely feel Georgie here. So did her mom when she saw this proof. I have a number of things to adjust, like her eye color, details in her face and the rest of her fur, and ultimately add the all-important whiskers and ear hair, but I’ll work those out as I go along.
Georgie is 19 years old, and though she was adopted from a shelter all those years ago she is apparently either fully or predominantly of Maine Coon cat breed with those extra large features and lush tabby fur.
And her personality is just as big with lots of conversation and direction for her human, and very particular requirements for her toys.