I was asked to paint a portrait of 3 month old Willa by her proud father, Matt. It is a birthday present for mom.
Matt sent me a couple of photos of Willa to work from along with several photos of the cute/insanely patterned chair that she sits in. All bright geometric animals and trees. I was pleased Matt asked for them to be incorporated into the painting. It gave me a hook.
I thought it would be cute to have Willa interact with the animal characters and originally I had a wide-eyed orange snail crawling across the limited hair on her head. However, the result of the original drawing was nothing short of creepy. Would it leave a graphic orange slime trail? I decided to settle for a cartoon tree in Willa’s balled up little fist. (I guessed at what her hand looked like. No picture. If she, in reality, is missing a finger or has one digit too many, I apologize for the inaccuracy).
I knew upon starting this lil’ portrait that I would need to paint Willa's face very soft. With a child, too many lines or too much contrast can make them look old. Like an old baby. Or maybe worse, tired and chronically fussy. Since I did not want to imply that the parents are causing sleep deprivation, I went as soft as I could. Never opened the tube of Mars Black, not even for mixing.
The trick here is to place the soft faced Willa in front of a background that is all about being bright and incredibly high in contrast. I remedied this by dulling the background with washes of white mixed with a translucent matte medium to keep her from being swallowed alive in color.
I had a good time making this painting and am happy with it. So much so that I'm going to officially open the site again for new commissions. So if you want a tiny painting, I'm your man! A man acting like a painting Panda.
Thank you, Matt and Willa and Mom. It has been a pleasure to paint for you!