I managed to make some progress with my current project yesterday. I’m around three and a half hours into working on the actual portrait – I didn’t time how long it took me to choose the reference photo, decide how to crop it, choose my palette and paper. The first two and a half hours were spent getting an accurate drawing to work from, this was so light on the paper that it wouldn’t show up well on a photo so the first one I’m sharing here is after I’ve started to add the dark areas of pastel.
The first application of tone.
This is a portrait of my son nursing. I have thought about celebrating our nursing relationship with a drawing for some time. But as I said in my previous post about starting this project, as it was a personal project for myself with no deadline, the idea got sidelined in favour of gifts for other people’s birthdays which needed to be finished on time. Then this month I happened to take a reference photo that I really loved and I received an email asking for art submissions for a calendar for La Leche League a charity which supports women with breastfeeding.
Laying in the first layer of pastel
I was glad that I had chosen the pastels I was using and had laid them out in order of value. It really made this part of the painting straightforward, I was able to work methodically from the darkest tone to the lightest and didn’t need to waste time trying to decide on which colour to select from a whole box of pastels. I definitely think I’ll work like this in future. Its not overly regimented, obviously if I feel I need to drop in a different colour I can do that, but on the whole it simplifies the colour selection down to which value to use.
Then I blended this first layer with my fingers
The difference blending these early layers makes is amazing really. There is still a long way to go building up the layers and details, but it really does begin to look like a painting at this point.
What I love about the reference is the moment it captures. That moment when we have made eye contact and shared a smile and he starts to laugh and looks away because he’s trying to maintain his latch which he can’t do while laughing! I did also have an image where he was looking directly at me – and I do love looking into his eyes – but the smile wasn’t quite as pronounced and it was that I really wanted to draw.
As an aside, it is really difficult to capture the lovely views of her baby that a nursing mother sees because there isn’t a lot of space to get the camera in between mum and baby and the baby frequently wants to touch the camera! I hope I’ll never forget all the wonderful little moments we have together. I know it won’t last forever so I’m glad to capture some of the magic and I feel lucky that we have been able to breastfeed as long as we have. I so wanted to but was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to. Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding have given me much more body confidence – I am so grateful that they all went so well because I didn’t have much confidence in my body beforehand.