@Gary-Wilkinson For what it's worth, Gary, I modified her pose a bit before posting it on Instagram. Hope it's less teapot-ish!
Thanks so much for the feedback, guys!
Just so you know something about how I formed this image, I was walking home on a rainy evening and this little girl was sort-of-running-but-not-really (because her mother was calling after her to slow down) past a café window. I liked the contrast of warm light in the dull surroundings and that's where I got the basic color scheme.
@Gary-Wilkinson Funny, you hit on something I am always wondering about--saturation. I once heard that nature uses a lot of neutrals with accents of color, and that is my natural tendency as well. Obviously in an even somewhat realistic illustration, however, the face isn't going to be extremely saturated. And in real life, children's clothing often is. So what are we to do?
My first go round for the color on this piece had the face and hose a bit darker. The face was also more saturated. But when I checked it in black and white for value, I saw that it needed more contrast. So the background got darker, and the face went lighter and the hose lighter and more orange. Honestly, I liked the hose better when they were cooler and darker, but I didn't want them to go pink when lightened. And I find that this is a frequent quandary: saturated colors appear to create more value contrast than they actually do, but when you go back and adjust the value so that they look contrasty enough in black and white, they don't have quite the same appeal in color. Maybe I should go back and post the original so you can see what I'm talking about. I liked the original red better. Still saturated, but the contrast is more because of saturation than value.
My other reservation was that I thought the pose itself might need some adjustments, mostly to her right hand (I think it should be more pointed at us) and foot (higher to emphasize running or skipping). But I wanted to do a quick piece, so posted it as it was.
And I have done other pieces that were almost all scanned textures, but this time wanted to try mostly bold brushwork. That was part of the "style trial."
Posting a process might be a good idea, but I can tell you why I am slow. For one thing, I am having lots of Wacom/Photoshop problems at present, but I also have trouble dealing with all the layers, despite creating folders and subfolders and color codes. When the file gets bogged down and develops too many PS quirks, I tend to choose the layers I like at the moment and jump to a new document, but save the old one in case I want to go back. It's a mess! "Thing wanted, always buried!"
In addition, I usually try to get the anatomy reasonably correct because it can be so expressive, but it's not easy without a model. I use reference, but of course in the end there's no substitute for one's own knowledge and judgment. And I admit that in this case, the frontal nature of the pose may be causing some of the ambiguity.
I am still working out my process, trying different brushes and approaches. It's only natural that this takes longer. There's a lot of pulling out a piece the next day and being underwhelmed with it, which is why I'm trying to post here more often.
And lastly, there's just life. Among other things, I've been teaching a lot of English lately.
@robgale and @chrisaakins I do like the idea of graphic novels! This is very different from my old oil painting style, but I like the idea of something that is more clean and design-y. I don't know which will win out or whether they will somehow combine!
@JennyJones I drew a sketch from memory, then started in with the color, then added the lines on top. I don't think there's anything magic for me about doing the color before the lines, but maybe because I am a painter I wanted to see how the big shapes were going to play out before adding the final lines. In theory I would like to be able to do traditional brushwork like Yuko Shimizu or Sidney Smith, but in real life it's all Photoshop and not nearly at their stratospheric level .
@nyrrylcadiz Huh! I don't know that I could ever do anything "of the moment" color-wise, but see my note to Gary above about saturation. I have always liked the way things look at night when artificial lights are shining on the street. And I think it's interesting that you liked her eyes, because it's the first time I've ever done eyes that were more black dots than real eyes. They look sort of primitive, but I actually did them over several times before I liked them.
Thanks so much for your feedback! Now I'm going to go back and try to finish the more rendered piece I was working on with the girl, dog and sausages. Version...gee, I've lost count!
What a cool idea!! Thanks for doing this, Kathryn! I really enjoyed reading the first interview. It helps to flesh out the people we interact with daily on this forum. And thanks so much for sharing your process on the forum, Braden. I don't think I've said that out loud yet, but I thought it!
A suggestion: How about creating a tag for these interviews so we can find them more easily as the collection grows? I look forward to seeing more of them!
Heidi, you can take this for what it's worth, but I'm happy to offer you what experience I have in portraiture.
I used to be a professional portrait artist in the 90s and early 2000s and I had as much work as I wanted. This was before digital and websites were such a thing, but I always got my work by word of mouth and still believe it's the best way because of the nature of the work. I did some low cost portraits for a few influential people, and then upped the ante. I also took out one ad in a residential interior design magazine (the best option at the time), but I don't think I got any work through it. It really helped, I think, that I got started in a place where portraits were a strong tradition, the southern US.
You may be wanting to do something entirely different, but I can tell you how most full-time portraitists work in the US. They go to the home of the subject's home, get to know them, and take their own photos--lots of them. Now I'd recommend video as well, or even some kind of 3D modeling if that's possible, just for reference. Because the artist isn't working from one photo and yet the style is realistic, the photo shoot and getting enough reference material are extremely important. Sittings are also extremely helpful if your subject can sit.
Also, clients want to document their families as being established, and that's why they are willing to spend so much money on a portrait. They also wanted, at least when I was working, an oil on canvas or pastel on paper and access to framing options, though there may be some market now for digital as well. So much of it was about the final physical product. It was almost a form of interior design, which I also had experience in. A lot of the process is about instilling confidence in the client that you know what they want and that they are getting an heirloom that they will pass on to their children. The higher prices are based on this ability. There are also portrait brokers, portrait societies and now portrait group websites. It's very much a specialized career, but if you want to try to enter it, some people do really well.
One reason I don't do oil portraits any more is that I no longer live in a place where they are such a tradition (or in the US at all), and traveling to the place where I used to live and dealing with the bureaucracy involved in international shipping would make me too expensive to be competitive with other portraitists. I don't know what it's like in your area, but if you know anyone else who is a successful portraitist or if there are artist cooperatives in your area, that might be a good place to start asking how viable it is and looking for advice.
You obviously have the ability to create realistic digital paintings that look like oils, which could be handy for editorial illustration, book covers, etc., but I wonder what a traditional private portrait client would think if they went to your site. Far be it from me to tell you I am an expert on websites (I'm definitely not!), but based on what I've heard some people here say, I think you might get more work if your website had a clearer focus and were cleaner. You might even create separate websites for various specialities or decide where your focus is going. I know I have this same problem in my Instagram at the moment, because it started out as more of a tourist account and now I'm doing more illustration, but I think that the clearer the image you can present of yourself, the better. It looks confident, and confidence counts for a lot!
Hope I haven't entirely missed your point here, but that's my take on the clientele you are going for with portrait commissions.
Along the lines of Gary's 100 kids, I'm trying to draw a lot of characters at the moment to work on style. One problem is that I am too slow, so I made this quick illustration based on a little girl I sometimes see in my neighborhood. Her mom was calling after her, "Topo!" which means "mouse" in Italian.
I don't think I'd always work like this, but I rather like it as an alternative to a more rendered style. I'd like to know both what you think about the style as such and whether you have any specific critiques. I have my own ideas but I'd like to hear what other people have to say independently. Thanks!
@Gary-Wilkinson Just the "Nina and sausages" sketches and color studies I posted under WIPs a week or two ago. And a couple of things on Instagram. I'm working on the rendering now, but got distracted with another character yesterday. Eventually things will smooth out a bit and I'll get on a roll!
These are so lovely! I'm informally doing much the same thing, though I wouldn't call it 100 kids yet (maybe 5 kids!) because experimentation is slowing me down a lot and my style is changing up so much.I do love the idea of this project, because illustrators draw so many kids! I'm glad that you've got things worked out to the point where you can work this quickly and come up with such a good result. And I agree with Simona--the quickness makes them very fresh! Keep up the good work!
P.S. Thanks for the brush info too! I'm messing around a lot with Kyle gouache (and oil) brushes as well, but in a different way.