Child Portrait Painting: “Ruby” or “Why can’t I beat my record number of Likes??”

“Perfectionist” is not a word used to describe me. If I get the job done in a satisfactory and efficient manner, I am happy. Usually. Until now.

I want each painting I create to be better than the last. And if I don’t think it is, I am grumpy until I produce another, better one. It’s like I’m in an acrimonious competition with myself.

Here’s a question for you: is a painting good because the artist thinks it is good or because the audience thinks it is good? I like to think that any artwork that promotes an emotional reaction in the viewer has succeeded.

That’s my highbrow answer. My focus-group based, prime-ministerial, populist answer, is that I think my work is good if it gets a lot of Facebook Likes.

Validation is comforting.

Cut to me in the studio wrestling with my latest child portrait painting…

As I near the end of this painting I realise that I haven’t chosen the best reference picture – there’s too much shadow on the face. I battle with myself to improve it (“only a poor workman blames his tools”) and feel disheartened when I realise that I still haven’t bettered “Girl in Pink”. I publish it on Facebook with trepidation. Ruby’s mum says WOW! Yay!

But no Likes. None!* Painting fail?

Looking at it on my easel, I don’t think so. I think it’s quite lovely. But I still want to beat “Girl in Pink”, dammit!

So here we go again with the preliminary sketch – looks promising so far.

Ruby preliminary sketch

Ruby preliminary sketch

Blocking in some darks for the eyes and hair.

Eyes and hair

Eyes and hair

And we’re at the scary stage…. skip ahead if you’re eating…

Ruby Scary Stage!

Ruby Scary Stage!

Phew… back to human again

Ruby Back to Human

Ruby Back to Human

More detail and more colour

Ruby adding more colour and detail

Ruby adding more colour and detail

And Ruby is finished. I find it very difficult to take a final photo which accurately reflects the colour. In natural light, it is too blue; artificial light, too yellow; with a flash either washed out or harsh. And because paintings are so much about colour, I find this frustrating!
Anyway, here is Ruby taken with a flash:

Final Ruby taken with a flash

Final Ruby taken with a flash

And here she is without a flash:

Ruby finished without flash

Ruby finished without flash

The reality is somewhere in between… and a whole lot better!

*Okay – I have one Like now. 🙂

Post to Twitter

Related posts:

  1. Child Portrait Painting: “Tea Party” or “The Bossy Artwork”
  2. Creation of a Portrait Painting: Work in Progress “Girl with Watermelon”
  3. Child Portraits: “Girl in Pink” revisited
  4. Creation of a Portrait: Girl with Watermelon – second instalment
  5. Portrait Drawing: Workshop with David White 4 February 2012

4 Comments

Filed under Child Portraits, Pastel Paintings and Drawings, Portrait Drawings, Portrait Painting Children, Portrait Paintings, Portraits

4 Responses to Child Portrait Painting: “Ruby” or “Why can’t I beat my record number of Likes??”

  1. Courtney

    Well I would post a “like” if I was on Facebook.

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