Patrick Ring: continued…

Patrick #3
Patrick #3

I was pleased with the start I made on Patrick’s portrait, the likeness was apparent from the initial drawing, and I found myself working to preserve a mood rather than create one. Work on the three stages of the portrait shown in this post was carried out intermittently over an extended twelve week period, interrupted at one point by a trip to Hong Kong and Australia. I took several images with me so that I would have plenty of thinking time to plan subsequent work on the portrait. My first move was to work in a neutral background and to echo some of the background colour in shadow glazes for the flesh tones. At Patrick #2 the flesh tones were given an exaggerated redness, and at Patrick #3 you can see how I have glazed over these (using various combinations of raw Sienna, gold ochre and pale Naples yellow) to create a more natural, less florid, effect.

Patrick #4
Patrick #4

The next step was to work on Patrick’s eyes, mainly to give me further guidance on the overall effect of the portrait. I have written about the complexity of my subject’s character, and I wanted to show this in the eyes, emphasising their steely light. Once this was done, I reverted to building up the complexity of the flesh tones, working in a variety of reds and yellows. I took the unusual step of using Payne’s grey in some of the shadows, an intuitive move, perhaps influenced by a wish to harmonise with the neutral background I had chosen. There is a plethora of ‘rules’ for painting, and for painting portraits in particular. It is a good idea to internalise as much of this information as possible, but sometimes even more important to break away and just follow pure instinct.

Patrick #5
Patrick #5

With Patrick #4 I had reached a stage with the flesh tones where I needed to bring in the clothing before making any further adjustments. This is just a personal quirk of mine, finding it easier to judge pitch and key when there is more surrounding, contextual, information to go on. As soon as I had done this I felt dissatisfied with the hue of the background and  went over it with a thinnish glaze of Michael Harding Italian green umber, a beautiful earth colour to work with. These changes made it much easier to work on the flesh tones, and I went through a gradual process of lightening the surface, allowing the underpainting to continue to have its influence. Patrick #5 feels close to completion, but there are still some major issues to resolve…

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