Painting a Child Portrait

by Lisa Larrabee

It is a unique experience to paint the portrait of a child verses an adult.  The proportions are a bit different, and the edges all seem softer.  Even with this in mind, I had to take careful measurements and correct the placement of features and key shapes.  I started this painting demo with a thinned wash of Gamblin transparent earth red and torrit grey.  I have previously started this process without neutralizing the wash with grey.  I found that it was more difficult to block in with accurate color over such a warm base, so I added the grey.  Blue would have worked just as well to neutralize the orange tones. The image below shows how far I got in part one of my painting demo.

When you block in with a wash and immediately begin sketching in paint, it is easy to "erase" any incorrect lines by blending them away and redrawing.  This was very useful in this case, because I had corrections that I needed to make in the very early stages.  It is important to continuously compare measurements to previous measurements so that you are building off of good information.  I did not begin blocking in any color/value until the measurements were consistently in relationship with each other.  This made it easier to add color with more confidence.

When I returned to work on this painting, the first issue that I wanted to address was the color.  Stage one was a little dull.  I began by brightening the light areas and then adding pinker tones throughout. There were some minor adjustments like the edge of the face.  Of course, the eyes needed to be much bluer and sparkle.  Although the painting feels like there is a looseness due to the sketchy unfinished areas, it was actually a study in deliberate color mixing, measurement and mark making.  This was a different way of working for me and I enjoyed every minute!

- Lisa