Heebie Jeebies!


I wish I had thought to take some pics of this one while it was still developing.  I was working from a reference photo and decided to go with the background color as it appeared.  As you can see it’s quite ‘red’ (though the photo is actually less so) and I went with some Alizarin Crimson straight out of tube (think ‘blood red’).  I mixed a couple of different values for interest and then proceeded to work on the face.  The reference photo was pretty washed out and I had a bit of trouble seeing her features, but I muddled through.  Eventually, I had her all blocked in and after adding the highlights to the eyes I got up from my chair and walked across the room for a fresh view.  Yikes!  When I turned around it was like a scene from the Exorcist!  I actually got the heebie jeebies, it was so scary!

The process of painting is a continual series of problem solving.  What’s the right color?  Is the value too dark?  Where is my light source?  How will this thing affect my composition?  These are the kinds of questions that go through the artists mind.  Right then I was asking myself way too many questions to deal with so I took a break.  Whew!

After my break I made a couple of changes and then stepped back to have another look.  Yikes, again!  Why was this happening? When I was working up close everything looked fine but the minute I stepped back I was looking at Carrie!  I’m not exactly sure when I figured this out but the blood red background wasn’t helping me get out of this mess.  After toning it down and changing her complexion three times I was at least able to stop scaring myself.

Eventually I got my portrait to where you now see it, though, I’m not sure it does much justice to the lovely Anne Marie (I tried). However, at some point you have to call it ‘done’ and move on.  I did learn a thing or two from this painting and I’m glad I was able to somewhat successfully answer most of those questions that came up.

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