Ella is the second in four sisters I’m painting. I met them all to photograph them for these and I’m loving how sweet they all look. I took quite a few progress photos to show you the gradual build up of the skintones while I’m editing the video based on the first sister. Hope you enjoy seeing her progression as well as some snaps from the very Southern tip of Spain in Tarifa.
The first real tonal work begins with a dark fleshy tone. I used this pastel on it’s side to mark in some of the darkest areas. This layer will be just about blocking in the dark and light without thinking about blending too much. So it looks a bit colourful and patchwork like at first.
Starting to find the edges of her face and also add some vibrant pinks which will be used in the shirt later. You need to think about the colours reflected on the skin’s surface when painting a portrait. A vibrant warm top can add a real glow to the skin.
We arrive in Tarifa at the very bottom of Spain where you can see Morroco just across the water a mere 20 miles away. The dirt track into what had been recommended as a great wild camping spot was a crazy potholed muddy mess. But we struggled in knowing we were there for quite a few days. If it rained we would wait it out. Sure enough it did rain, but after a couple of rocky days in the van working we had sunshine. This is Freda posing with her new friend Elsa. Even motorhomes make friends.
So you can see now that I’ve got some of the dark vibrant areas blocked in and also outlined her face a little so I have a good idea of her overall shape. Having the darkest area in early in a painting really helps to judge all your dark tones against that.
Here I’m using a Faber Castel Pitt pencil which I find blends the softer paster well onto the velour. When I build up skintones I use very thin layers which then blend together. If you want some type of realism try not to create skintone in one or two thick layers as it will look 2D.
Using the pastel pencil a little to get the darkest line on her lip. I try to keep hard lines to a minimum on children’s portraits. Their faces are so soft, so I try to have a very soft blended look quite different from my technique in painting fur.
One of the evenings we had a campfire on the beach just round the bay from where we were parked. We’re here with a couple of friends we’ve met on the road and it’s so nice to spend these evenings in their company hearing of their adventures.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my progress on this one and the photos from Tarifa. Check back soon for the third sister.