Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Stormy Day in the Studio

Today was a perfect day to stay home and get something accomplished. We've been under a winter storm warning since last night when temperatures dropped from 44 degrees to a low of 7 this morning. The wind howled all night and continues to do so today although we aren't getting much snow. I love stormy days in winter and the cozy warmth of the house, knowing that my horse is safe and also warm in the barn where I board him.

So, today after washing some really grimy saddle pads in the laundry tub, I got back to work on the portrait of Bard. I thought it was going to be an easy portrait, but it hasn't turned out that way. After tracing the line drawing onto some drawing paper, I began the shading process and immediately things went south. Bard didn't look like Bard anymore! How could that be? So today I studied and studied all the reference photos, made a change here and another there and gradually Bard reappeared in the image. 

When you're doing a portrait and trying to get an exact likeness, a very small change can make a big difference. My challenge in doing this value study is to keep the light source consistent at the same time I remain faithful to Bard's facial features. He has a typical Quarter Horse head but it's also on the lean side. Getting the shadows and highlights in exactly the right places is very important to getting a good likeness. Since I don't have a reference photo in sunlight from exactly the same angle as the pose my client wanted me to use, this has been a real mental exercise.

Above you can see how far I've gotten up to today. The photo isn't very good because I neglected to check the camera settings and shot it at a slight angle, but it will have to do until the next update. Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image on my website (if I can figure out how to do that).

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