Sunday, July 12, 2015

Girls at Bruce Caves [UPDATED]

My dear, sweet grandmother (on my mother's side, as opposed to my dear, sweet grandmother on my father's side) is turning 83 in a couple of weeks.

Back when I first took up painting, Nanny asked me to paint her a picture of my girls to hang in her house.  And, like any good granddaughter, it only took me about 6 years to actually get around to it.

Acrylic 20x20 canvas
It was quite the undertaking and took me about six months to complete.

The original photo was taken on a trip to Tobermory, Ontario (By the way, go there, it's lovely) when we stopped for a hike at the Bruce Caves just outside of Wiarton, home of Wiarton Willie, groundhog meteorologist extraordinaire.

The Well-Travelled One had lifted the girls up into this wee little opening in one of the cave walls. I was actually standing about 5-6 feet below them when the original photo was taken.

I blocked in the outline of the girls and did most of the rock in the background first.  It took a lot of texturing and glazing to get the depth I wanted.

I had a difficult time with the contrast of the opening in the background, but I'm rather happy with how it turned out.

This has definitely been the most challenging piece I've done, mainly for one reason:


There are SO MANY HANDS in this picture.  Normally, I get around hands by rendering them as, amorphous, vaguely hand-shaped blobs.  But because the hands in this picture are within the main focal point, I tried really hard to make them actually look like hands and not amorphous, vaguely hand-shaped blobs.  The hardest one was Reagan's (brown hair) left hand, the one laying on the rock in the foreground.  For the longest time it insisted on looking like a spindly, demented spider.  Although it's still a little disproportioned, it looks like a hand, kind of.

The one I thought turned out best was Tierney's left hand, the one up against her face.

The hair on both of them was a lot of fun to do.  I really just played with a lot of yellows and browns and whites until it turned out the way I wanted.

I'm a little disappointed with the proportions.  It turned out, after I had gotten well into it, that I had completely messed up the positioning of Reagan's arms and head, which caused me a lot of problems and I ultimately had to reposition her.  Somewhere along the lines, her head became a bit big for her body, which gives her a bit of a toddler-esque look here, even though she was about 9 when this was taken.  Incidentally, the fact that I made Tierney's arms a bit too long makes her look older.

Overall, however, I am mostly happy with the results, and I am hoping Nanny likes it too.

UPDATE: Yes, Nanny liked it, a lot. My cousin has also commissioned me to do a portrait of her and her kids.  So there's that.  Yay!

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