It's that time again - time to try to capture one of these cute kiddos on canvas.
This time, it's my third child who was in the studio posing for me.
In case you're not tracking, my wife Deirdre and I have a sizable little posse now. Our little man here, from the middle of the pack, is one of the most vivacious little guys you could hope to come across. (In fact, it's fair to say that he's a more vivacious little boy than some people can handle.)
Having him in the studio was delightful. But it was also a bit of work to get a pose out of the little guy! On top of being lively, t.a.l.k.a.t.i.v.e, and squirmy, he's also one of the most facially expressive people I know. One second the light would be just right and the pose would be almost getting there... and the next second the moment would have passed and he'd be leaving us in his dust. But we got some good shots in spite of him!
I'm including a few of the outtakes here to give you a sense of his larger-than-life personality:
This is him on very restrained behavior, doing his best to be still and good:
I believe he would have provided excellent material for Rockwell.
But, as much as I love the comical side, I do want to focus on one of these images that will translate more naturally into a formal oil portrait.
So let's talk about some of these options:
A. This shot is lovable for the tight energy and high contrasts. I'm a fan of the warm gold going on here, of his hair looking neat and tidy, and of the twinkle in his eye. Beyond that, it's not the best depiction of someone who's generally rough-and-tumble and rowdy as a puppy.
B. The color and contrast are good; it's a fun, thoughtful pose. This has an air of 'The dreamer.'
C. The abundance of light and color in this is very winning. It's a good amount of focus while also capturing something of the electricity of his smile. I like that we have a good view of his eyes.
D. This is a very sweet shot and, again, I love the warmth of this background and the soft tones in the face. It captures the little boy time of his life, but we are losing a great deal with his eyes averted.
E. In terms of photography, this is the weakest of the bunch. But we find that the shot captures his smile perhaps most authentically of all the pictures taken. Although the focus isn't the best, I'm considering making use of this image.
F. Has many of the good qualities of E with a bit more polish.
The jury is still out on this one. Lots to think about here. (Most likely, my final decision will also involve another look at the cropping, as these were quickly cropped for the purposes of this post.)
Tell me: which one or ones is/are your favorite? Comment below -- Maybe you can help me decide what should end up on canvas!
Last week I sent an email to my private list of Beauty Advocacy subscribers and Facebook community to ask for input about my daughter's painted portrait. It's always great fun to hear everyone's input! Different aspects of a pose speak to different people.
Deirdre and I had selected these six images from among hundreds of shots. With a toddler sitting [squirming] for a photo, it takes a lot of tries to get even this many candidates!
As I explain on my portraiture page, the best portrait will result from a live sitting. Ideally, a portrait subject would come in for a series of sittings, each for a few hours, so that I'd have the chance really to study that person live, with real light shining on his/her face and real color to work with before me in three dimensions.
But in the case of a toddler, a photo will do the trick. Toddlers are not the best models, but it is a delight to capture this young phase!
Thanks to my subscribers, I was able to get a sense of what about these photos strikes others. Here is the approximate breakdown of the votes:
A - 12% of the votes
B - 15% of the votes
C - 15% of the votes
D - 34% of the votes
E - 13% of the votes
F - 9% of the votes
So our clear leader was D, with C and B tied for second.
But I still had to decide....
Clearly, there is a lot to love about D. It is very bright and cheerful, capturing a sweet moment from our little girl. It's appealing to capture an unguarded, candid moment. Deirdre and I agree that we would like to have this printed and framed as a photo -- it is, undoubtedly, a charming snap of our girl (and captures a hint of her mischievous nature)! But for an oil portrait, I tend to want a more elevated tone. In my opinion, D will not translate as well to the canvas as some of the other options would.
(Now - mind you - if you were commissioning this portrait of your daughter and that was your favorite, then that's the one that I would paint!)
B just isn't my favorite. While I love the pose with the hands slightly clasped and the 3/4 view of her face still sporting baby cheeks... I'm not loving it. There's a hint of "dazed" in that photo that I ultimately decide against.
C is a tough one to turn down. I think it is objectively the prettiest one, and I would love to turn it into an oil portrait. But Deirdre is adamant that the painting should capture our little one's bright blue eyes. So this is also a no-go.
So where does that leave me?
I was finding that I just kept coming back to E.
Both Deirdre and I love this image. We love the pose with the full arm, elbow slightly bent; we love the curls flying somewhat free (her golden hair tends to be tousled); we love the crinkle of the silk dress; we love the fully-lit view of the face. We also love the energy, which is distinctly that of our sweet-yet-wild little one. This image captures our little girl and also has that slightly more formal sense that I'm going for in an heirloom piece.
The one hesitation: Deirdre was finding that she was wishing for the color scheme from D. That blue background, especially, seems like the right spirit-color for our little girl, as well as a color that we'd like to have hanging on our walls for decor purposes (yes, that is a factor to consider!). The purple wasn't doing it for Deirdre.
So let me wave my magic wand here...
And I think we have our winner.
We (the parents) are happy, I (the artist) am happy... I think we're good to go. When I translate this to the canvas, I'll plan to smooth out the background (drapery wrinkles not necessary), fill out the hair a little (some was lost to photography and we do enjoy her golden curls), and adjust the ribbon to be smoother and wider. The little clip in her hair will either disappear or get a Cinderella transformation as well. These are the liberties that I get to take to come up with the final product we're looking for!
Please don't let my special offer on portraits pass you by! We're talking about some big savings here:
Just shoot me an email, give me a call, drop me a line through my contact form... let's get this ball rolling! Payment plans welcome.
Hesitating because you're not sure about some aspect of the process? That's ok; I'm learning too! Feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.
I look forward to sharing with you when this portrait is underway and then complete! (Make sure you're subscribed to my private email list to stay tuned.)
Let's talk about how 2022 is the perfect year for you to have your/your loved one's portrait painted.
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It's a good time for celebrating the human person, particularly as discovered in the face. There's really no good way to abstract the face, because faces are essentially personal. Your face. Your loved one's face. A good portrait should give a sense of the whole person, but of course will focus on that all-important face.
Our culture has been suffering from a defacing -- literally, a lack of faces. The effect has been chilling. Misunderstanding and fear are two of the major byproducts of this rejection of the essential goodness of the human face.
But this is not how we were meant to live. We were made to relate to, to connect with, to love one another. So much of this hinges upon our ability to communicate with each other and understand one another, face to face. We're not just statistics, we're people.
So, I say, let's get some portraits painted!
Why have a portrait painted?
Here are a few reasons why you might be looking for a painted portrait:
Here's the fun part.
I'm offering a 36% discount off of any studio portrait booked by Feb 28.
Why 36%? Because I just turned 36. (We wanted this announcement to go out on my birthday [Jan 11], but we've honestly just been too busy until now!)
What does that look like, in terms of savings? See below:
Can you tell I'm eager to dive in here?
The Fine Print
Click here to see my portrait page for more on pricing and what the painting process looks like!
Any questions? Feel free to comment below! Peace!
Now that this painting, which was commissioned for a fundraiser effort, has made its way to its final destination via an exciting in-person auction, I am free to make the official reveal:
St. Joseph the Humble
As I mentioned, this painting was commissioned for a fundraiser, in this case for the group Young Catholic Professionals.
The folks at YCP and I were in talks about this painting long before we knew that this year would be declared by Pope Francis as the Year of St. Joseph. The conference was originally scheduled for last September, but of course was pushed out until this spring. In the end, the timing was auspicious, as the Conference took place over the weekend of May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
In the process of this painting, I was certainly meditating on St. Joseph the Worker. I tried out different poses with my model, considering painting the Saint with his hammer and square to emphasis his carpentry. St. Joseph the Worker is absolutely my patron in my studio and I am devoted to him especially as the model man who provides for his family with hands-on work. In the end, I chose to paint St. Joseph with his flowering staff. His head down, his brow somewhat furrowed, his mind pondering the tasks placed before him and his heart in prayer, he eventually emerged to me as a man most humble. Hence the title.
I had the pleasure of traveling to Dallas, TX for YCP's annual conference and presented this work at the VIP reception before the concluding gala.
"John is a very talented artist who clearly puts his heart and soul into his commissioned pieces. The painting exuded light, depth, and sophistication, which translated into an excellent live auction experience with substantial funds raised for our non-profit." - Jennifer Baugh, Founder & Executive Director of Young Catholic Professionals (YCP)
After the unveiling, I painted on my signature as the very final step to complete this work.
Here's a shot of the winner (left) and the gentleman who graciously agreed to let this painting go in exchange for a whole separate commission. So another St. Joseph painting will soon be underway!
The auction was very exciting, with two bidders eventually getting into a bit of a war over the piece! After considerable back-and-forth, time was running short. The auctioneer made the suggestion on the spot: would I be willing to paint a second painting for the runner-up? I agreed, and in the end, you might say, the painting sold not once, but twice to benefit YCP.
And then to make it even more complete, a priest was available to give the painting a blessing on the spot! So the artwork was able to go to its new home all ready as a blessed object to aid in prayer and devotion. It was perfect!
Many thanks to my model, an excellent study for St. Joseph -- my brother-in-law. We had a good - if quiet - time in the studio to make this come to life.
Hello there, I'm John H. Folley, an oil painter in the Boston School tradition. Thanks for visiting the Beauty Advocacy Blog, where it's my job to help you become a more discerning art appreciator.
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