Copying RvR head

1_0001bI’m way behind on art postings, but finally scanned a bunch of stuff. I’ll jump to the present and then backtrack. I’ve been wanting to get back to portraiture, and decided to do some exercises to work on what artists call warm/cool temperature relationships — basically, creating a believable form using not just value and color but warm and cool values and colors. I’ve been on a Rembrandt obsession lately, so the obvious thing was to copy a Rembrandt…

Copy of Rembrandt portrait of a young girl
Heat set oils on canvas, 8″ x 10″

This is a copy of a portrait that appeared in Rembrandt in America — google image that and you will find her. I didn’t make any great effort to capture her look — she looks much older here than in the original. I mainly went for a method of painting the shadows, grayed halftones, and lights.

The complexity of Rembrandt’s expressions amazes me, particularly in the mouth. He nailed her youth and vulnerability; I did not. Mine kind of looks like a Marie Antoinette doll. Learned a lot!

Technical info: The underpainting is layers of pyrrole red, raw sienna, then a gray made with raw umber and white, then an adjustment layer of gray plus raw sienna and white to green it a bit.  (If I had known what I was doing, I probably could have got the color in 2 layers.)  Being able to do this quickly is heat set paints in action – 4 layers before I started her at all. (I did the whole painting — about 7-8 layers, in 2 days.  Unlike acrylics, they behave fairly like oils until you set them.) After the canvas toning was done, I blocked in the drawing with raw umber, set that, and used raw sienna, burnt sienna, black and red for the final layers.