Monochromatic Portrait Paintings

by Lisa Larrabee

I started these monochromatic studies of my boys with the intention of glazing color over them.  This whole process was very foreign to me.  I typically build both contrast and details gradually.  Beginning with strong darks, lights and details was completely the opposite of what I was used to, but it was also instantly rewarding.  So much so, that I didn't want to add color.

Starting on a solid background color, I painted directly with white oil paint.  I began with the lightest area in order to make value comparisons against it. 

Titanium white is the only paint being used at this stage.  I did not thin the paint with any medium.  Transitioning from the light to medium values was achieved by scumbling with very little paint on my brush.  The effect is broken color that allows the underlying base color to show through.

Although this technique was new to me for a portrait, I had stumbled upon it quite by accident when painting the pin-striped baby blankets in my painting, New Day.

Once the lights were complete (and dry), I painted the darks in the same way.  I liked the old sepia feel to the portraits, so I left them as they were.  With each painting, I try to learn something new.  I started my painting of Aubry using this same method, but continued by glazing colors.  

I have also recently experimented with another variation of this technique that I will be posting once the original painting has been delivered. "Like" my Larrabee Art Facebook page to see updates from my teaching blog.