Backlighting

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Backlit”. Rebelle 5.

I learned many things while attempting to complete this painting, such as the importance of working from a good reference image, and just how difficult it can be to accurately convey shadowed skin tones as well as brilliant, sunlit hair. Quite the challenge!

In fact, it was SO challenging that I made no fewer than 5 attempts to get this painting completed in a way that made me happy. After two false starts with oil on canvas and a number of digital tests, I wondered “Maybe this just doesn’t want to be painted?” For someone who hadn’t touched traditional paint in over a year (and is more comfortable with acrylics, to boot), a blurry, shadowed portrait with serious backlighting maybe wasn’t the safest, easiest way to ease myself back into painting. But of course, I couldn’t give up. Not only was I keen on trying to reproduce the halo effect on the hair, but also… the subject of the painting is my own daughter!

Vintage Cleveland

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Vintage Cleveland”. Photoshop.

When I saw this young woman’s portrait (so-called “Cleveland” because I think it came from the Cleveland Municipal Archives), I just knew that I had to breathe some colour into her. Surely this is a woman who would have had no problem asking for, nay, demanding equal pay! Or maybe I’m projecting a little bit…

Here is the original for comparison:

Paintover

©2022, Emma Pittson, “September 23 Paintover”. Photoshop.

One of the advantages of digital painting software is that you can easily block out new ideas without wasting any paint (this is especially good for us cheapskates!). Remember this unfinished painting from the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge? One of the reasons why it ground to a halt was because I had doubts about keeping the gauzy scarf around her shoulders white or if I should go with a bolder colour – forest green, for example.

To be honest, I’m liking the addition of a coloured background more than the idea of adding a scarf, so I just might keep it like this. Of course, if anyone else has an idea they’d like to share, please feel free to do so!

From B&W Photo to Colour Painting

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Beatrice”. Photoshop.

I’m been obsessed for a while now with trying to paint a colour portrait from a vintage black & white photograph, but I never felt ready to try until just recently. There was no objective behind this project other than to see if I could do it.

Keeping the “colour zones” of the face in mind, I essentially kept to: 1) yellow tones for the forehead, 2) red tones across the nose and cheekbones, and 3) cool tones for the jawline. I would go one step forward and include yellow/green tone for neck area, and also blue right under the eyes.

Here is the photo of actress/artist Beatrice Chanler that I used as reference:

Beatrice Chandler

Second Mayowa Nicholas Study

©2019, Emma Pittson, “Mayowa Nicholas Face Study II”. Photoshop.

Another digital portrait from last year (or maybe even earlier!) that I’m only posting now (woops!). This is not the first time I’ve painted this model. What can I say? The proportions of her face just seem so mathematically perfect to me!

I really miss doing portraits. I am this close to putting the call out on Facebook or Instagram asking for people to send me pictures of them just so I don’t have to fall back on self-portraits or pestering my immediate family to pose for me.