The painting idea came to me in a dream I had while approaching my due date. The birth turned out to be harder than I could have ever imagined, but after 55 hours of labor my son was born healthy and strong. After using the painting as a focal point through hundreds of contractions, this scene is inextricably mixed with my memory of birth. It's now one of my very favorite paintings, although the mere sight of it made me feel sick for a few weeks afterward because it brought it all back so vividly.
The painting, entitled Origin, is not for sale but prints are available for purchase in my print store.
I am taking several months off painting to have a baby, due any day now. I had a dream several weeks ago that the baby was at the top of a mountain, and I had to go on a long hike to get him. The scenery in the dream painting is loosely based on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the high Sierra mountains of California that my husband and I backpacked a few years ago. On one memorable stretch we spent a long two days hiking towards what looked like an impossible climb over a high mountain pass.
I filmed the painting for a video, which I will post in the new year. Here's a still:
The wonderful thing about acrylic paints is that it's so easy to paint over other layers when making adjustments. A drying time of 20 minutes or so is all that's needed. I applied a shaded lighter blue to the whole background.
Emily needed some final adjustments to improve the likeness. Because I changed the shoulder pose of the original photo, I had to look at some sitting poses of Emily to get her neck and shoulders right. I slimmed down her neck and defined her shoulders by painting over the edges with the blue background paint. Next, I touched up the edges of her shoulders to make them darker and more three-dimensional. Here's Emily's finished portrait:
While the mother character in the book is modeled after my own mom, these illustrations are actually based on my sister, who had her baby last year and took some pictures of herself doing household chores to help me out. Before my own pregnancy, it was hard for me to visualize how a pregnant lady would carry a box or a bucket. I have a better idea now.
Needless to say, things have been busy around here, and I haven't made any new posts or videos recently. However, I've got several paintings in the works right now, and I hope to show them off soon.
In this portrait, I'm bringing a black and white photo into color. I did this once before in a portrait of a woman a few years ago. Since Emily has yellow tones in her coat, I started with a purple underpainting:
Next, I painted the golden tones over top. I used Yellow Ochre, Titan Buff and a bit of Burnt Umber mixed with white. When I converted the original sketch to a headshot pose, I realized that I needed to adjust some things as I went. I started with her eyes looking too small, since the sketch didn't really capture the dark areas around her eyes. The face also looks too wide due to the original pose, so I painted over some of the layers around her face. Later, these will be covered completely by the background.
Once I fixed the edges of the eyes and added the black under her nose, the portrait started to look more like Emily. Here she is with more layers of yellow and brown:
I added the tongue and refined the dark areas in her eyebrows with more layers. Next, I'll start on the finer detail to bring out the texture of her fur.