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Behind the Scenes - A Portrait Step by Step

Step by Step

Looking at another artist's process can teach us a lot about our own work. I have benefited immensely from other artists sharing so it's only fair that I share in return. For that reason, I'm going to start an occasional series showing my steps. While I'm certainly still figuring out what those steps are, you'll definitely see some common approaches emerge. Quick note about the images: I can only take decent pictures when it is light outside. Any work done between 4PM and 7AM are left out purely from a darkness standpoint. [caption id="attachment_894" align="aligncenter" width="804"]Mixed Media Step by Step, Kelly Anne Powers Mixed Media Step by Step, Kelly Anne Powers[/caption] The Beginning I start with a pencil drawing on paper. Drawing is still a bit of a struggle for me so there are always a ton of erased lines. Once I get the drawing to something I like, I cover it with matte medium. For this piece I next added collage elements. In my daily portrait paintings I don't often use a lot of collage elements. That's a time issue. I want to set myself up so that the daily portrait painting is a challenge but not impossible. Long drying times just mean I'm waiting around feeling anxious as opposed to using that energy to battle paint. (<--In the best way.) [caption id="attachment_895" align="aligncenter" width="804"]Mixed Media Step by Step, Kelly Anne Powers Mixed Media Step by Step, Kelly Anne Powers[/caption] The Middle Now it's time to start playing. My process goes drawing (stress), abstract painting play (mostly fun), problem solving (sometimes stressful sometimes fun depending on how everything is going.) During the middle of the painting, I work intuitively. Sometimes that goes great. Sometimes that doesn't go great. Looking at the purple brown squares (right painting) I can almost hear the "Ooooh nooooo," that must have come out of me at the time. I want more darks in my work but I haven't yet mastered the mixing of darks. I'll mix and then put it down to discover it's way too purple. Or too brown. Too something. However, these are exactly the kinds of problems I want to set up for myself. I'll spend the best parts of the painting trying to solve those problems. If I'm lucky, that's exactly when the interesting stuff starts to happen. [caption id="attachment_896" align="aligncenter" width="804"]Steps5-6-800web Mixed Media Step by Step, Kelly Anne Powers[/caption] The End Now we get to the problem solving phase. At this point I'll start jumping back and forth between the background and hair. I added a dark stenciled blue to the background, and I stenciled in a red for the hair. Those decisions help me know what I need to do next on the face, which probably includes reassessing my darks and lights. I'm still learning about facial planes but there are a few simple obvious darks and lights for the face: Darks: upper lip, eye crease, nose holes, pupils Lights: lower lip, parts of the sclera (whites of eyes), pupil highlights And with the darks and lights finished, it's probably time for me to consider the painting finished. Thanks for visiting! And if you have any questions about anything above, please don't hesitate to ask!

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