Copyright April M Rimpo

Visit April's website
Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Having fun with portraits

A couple years ago I decided to do a book of family portraits as a surprise gift for my mother.  Since these were for my family I thought I should experiment with a variety of styles to help me learn and also to keep the project fun and exciting.  There is nothing like trying a new technique to keep you work fresh and challenging.  Many of these were based on black and white photos taken in the 40s and 50s.  In some ways that gave me to opportunity to play with color since there was no bias introduced by the photographs themselves.  

Here are some examples and a little bit about each approach and why I selected the style for each painting.  When doing commissions of portraits the customer and I discuss the color scheme to ensure I understand their goals.  These samples are to help with that discussion. Some of these are commissioned work.

We have all seen the ads from the '40s of the woman holding a coffee cup and of Rosie the Riveter.  These ads used bold colors, bright yellow backgrounds, and a graphic style.  This painting gave a nod to that style, where I simplified shapes using contours and exaggerated colors.  I didn't want the stark yellow background used in many of those ads, so I muted the yellow slightly and sprayed it with water to create spots and soft areas to contrast with the figure.

This painting was based on a photograph of my son when he was drawing.  Most of his drawings are line drawings in graphite, which he then scans and augments on the computer.  I wanted to bring in the feel of his line drawings, so I used watercolor pencil to add outlines to his features and to create his beard.  See the closeup at right to better see the approach.

Capturing the love between mother and daughters drove me to use warm colors in the background to wrapped this touching moment with the emotions they shared.

Since this painting was of my brother and I as children, I wanted a soft painting that portrayed young innocence. Using soft colors for our clothing and the shadows on the birch trees kept the painting light while the dark bark and grass at the base helped force the view back up into the center.  My brother always protected his little sister so his pose with his arm up, although likely unplanned, made me feel like he was providing a shield.  I strengthened the color in his arm to keep that gesture from being lost in the background.

When on vacation in Deep Creek, the innkeeper where we were staying asked whether I ever painted in sepia.  I couldn't recall if I ever had, but thought that would be a wonderful way to paint one of these portraits since sepia toned photographs were common in the era of some of the source photos.  I started this painting using a grisaille approach, using shades of gray, to capture shapes, their hair, and the patterns in their clothing.  Then I added pale washes of burnt orange reminiscent of old sepia tone photographs.

Similar to the approach used for the portrait of my son above, I used line-work in this painting.  However in this painting I used charcoal, instead of watercolor pencil, to achieve heavier lines.  I had used a bright background that I didn't want to become the focus of the painting and I felt the heavy lines added interest and kept the focus on the boys.

This painting is called Speed.  My brother was so happy in his new sports car that I wanted to paint it as though he was streaming down the road.  I abstracted some of the shapes of the interior of the car to keep the focus on my brother, then intentionally blurred the background as though the foliage along the side of the road was out of focus as he flew by.  I incorporated some of the red from the car in the background and formed it into flames to help emphasize a sense of speed.

Some portraits are more about the inner story of a person, capturing a bit of their spirit or perhaps something they love.  This piece was focused on the spirit of this person. The additional of graphic elements is something we could discuss if you are interested in this type of portrait.

I think it is important when doing portraits to include notes about the person or the times to create an interesting story and help communicate a bit about the person.  I think choosing the approach to the painting ended up being an important part of telling each story in a unique way.  The same is true when telling stories about places and things and hope my art succeeds to convey a place and time.

Let me know which of these paintings spoke most to you and why.  I'd love to hear whether the approach I used conveyed a bit of the story before you read my explanation.

You can read more about commissioning a painting here.

© Commissioned paintings, like all of my other artwork, is an original design, concept, and creation of the artist, April M. Rimpo. The copyright is owned solely by the artist for the protection of her original work. Although you have purchased this painting for your pleasure, the right to reproduce or copy in any form is reserved solely for the artist and is forbidden by law. You may share my work with attribution to April M. Rimpo and a link to, but all other uses are prohibited. Thank you for honoring this protection of creative work.

Interested in April's artwork or taking one of her classes? Consider becoming a Studio Friend by signing up for her weekly email. April segments her newsletter so you can select topics you'd like to hear about when you sign up. For those who Select the General Interest topic you will receive emails about twice-monthly. If you are only interested in classes, then the emails will be much less frequent discussing upcoming classes and how to register. Select as many topics as sound of interest. Thank you for your support of April M Rimpo Art. Oh, and please be sure to click on the link in a second email to verify your interest in joining my newsletter. Without the verification you will be left in a limbo state where you will not receive my emails and I can't complete the verification on your behalf. If you receive a response that you are already subscribed, email me to confirm and I can send you a different link to update your profile and get the verification email resent to you.

Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I look forward to hearing from you. - April

Most Popular Posts This Month

Most Popular Posts of All Time