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How the latest painting came to life from start to finish

I was asked to do this latest commission a couple of weeks ago, working from a photo of the couple in question. The client didn’t specify which medium it was to be painted in, so I suggested acrylics as I prefer them for the way I can get a likeness for portraits and people. The client said he wanted the painting to be on board, rather than canvas, and we agreed on a size of 14 x 11 inches, with me to find a frame for it. I asked if there was a specific date he wanted it done by and he said “As soon as possible, but no deadline” which helped a lot, because it didn’t necessarily mean Christmas, but it did mean if I could do it by then, then that was ideal…

The client did ask that I take photos of the stages as I did the painting, so here they are as I progressed through creating it….

Stage 1 – I cut the artboard to size (14 x 11 inches) and drew out the couple onto the board. There were other things within the background but they weren’t important so I just concentrated on the couple and the table and drinks infront of them.

Stage 2 – artboard is very absorbant, and even though its made for painting with acrylics I know from past experience that I need to get a few coats of paint on it to seal it before I start painting the details, so I have to do a couple of thin layers rather than one thick one. the colours were the base tones of the rest of the painting.

Stage 3 – Another thin layer of paint to seal the artboard, with the background done as a solid black, as it helped to make the couple stand out more as the finished background would be mottled, but I wasn’t fully sure how much until the couple were painted, the background had to add to the picture, not lead the eye away from the couple who were the focal point.

Stage 4 – The artboard was sealed now and I could start painting the foreground of the white table, the beer bottle, and the two glasses, the the mans white shirt and shading on it, and the womans striped blouse. Her blouse was navy blue, with red, and white vertical stripes, I wanted to replicate the stripes without painting them in full detail, because the eye would lead to them as the strongest contrast in the painting. I also painted the yellow plastic chair that she was sitting on.

Stage 5 – I painted the red vertical stripes in the womans blouse, and softened the folds, then painted the mans hands and cigar. Then I painted the womans hair and hands and watch and bracelet. When I was happy that everything was right, I then painted the womans face, as it had to look like her in the photo I was working from, Flesh tones are a mixture of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow, magenta pink, ultrmarine blue, white, and black, but everyone has their own mixture in their flesh tones, I knew that I would have to adjust the mix to get the mans flesh tones after I had painted the woman. When I was happy that she was painted fully, I painted the mans hair then his face until he looked like the photo I was working from. It was only then that I painted the mottled background, as if I’d left the solid black background it would have looked too flat, and I wanted the background to pick up similar tones to the bottle and glass to make it look harmonious, but be of mid tones so that the couple stood out from the picture, When I was happy with it I signed it.

Stage 6 – The finished painting! Just a bit more to do.. to frame it…

Stage 7 – The finished painting in its frame. The painting is called ‘Marion and Tony’ and is painted in acrylics on board, the finished painting is 14 x 10 inches. I love it, and its been a joy to paint not only the couple. but the glass bottle that has so much life in it, and the empty and full glasses… This is such a happy painting of a couple with happy memories. Its also interesting for me to see, and show, the different stages, from making sure the couple were in the right placement within the painting, to making sure the background added, but didn’t take over from the couple, and that of course, it looked like the two people in question… !