Filtering by Category: Portraits

Understanding my painting process

Added on by Lara Hoke.

I've come to realize that I need at least three hours of dedicated painting time per studio session.  My process seems to be that during the first two hours, I make a mess.  In the last hour, I fix the mess and move forward.  

I stopped working on this portrait months ago because I found myself only making a mess, never having that third hour to fix and improve things.

Today I had a good chunk of time in the studio and believe me, I made a mess.  But I also made some progress.  It is closer than ever to complete.

Scroll down to view several stages of the portrait and the source image.

Isabella, oil on board, portrait commission in progress. 1/1/2013

Isabella, oil on board, portrait commission in progress. 1/1/2013

Isabella, oil on board, portrait commission in progress. 12/31/2013

Isabella, oil on board, portrait commission in progress. 4/30/2013

Isabella, oil on board, portrait commission in progress. 4/30/2013

Isabella source image.jpg

Portrait Study

Added on by Lara Hoke.

I'm excited to begin a new portrait commission and looking forward to the challenges it will present.  This portrait is of an adorable young girl delicately holding a butterfly on her wrist.  The image was captured by her parents while visiting the Audobon Butterfly Garden in New Orleans.

The painting will be executed in oil on panel. Below is a study for the portrait.

Lara Hoke

Study of Girl with Butterfly

Portrait of Ben

Added on by Lara Hoke.

I am participating in a show titled "Faces" in Berkeley that opens early next month. I will be showing three pieces and--potentially--a fourth, if I can complete this portrait of Ben which I started this week. I want this painting to feel like a charcoal drawing, with the artist's hand present in the push and pull between additions and erasures.  The main image below is where the portrait is now.   The three images in the strip below are from earlier stages in the portrait's evolution.

Ben, in progress

It is done!

Added on by Lara Hoke.

Bob and Mary Galvin, Illinois Institute of Technology, Lara HokeFor the past several months I have been working on a portrait commission for the Illinois Institute of Technology.  It was, at times, a struggle but I am excited to annouce that it is done and has been installed in its new home at the Paul V. Galvin Library at IIT.  To the right is the final portrait and a shot from the unveiling.

For better images of the portrait, please visit my Portraiture page.




Approaching Completion (in muffled steps)

Added on by Lara Hoke.

I'm excited to share these images, the portraits are getting closer and closer to completion. It's been difficult working with reference photos that are black and white (portrait on left) and under saturated (portrait on right), but I'm always up for a challenge.

Please note the black lines are digitally imposed and used as guides rather tan being part of the final product.

Lara Hoke, Portraits in Progress

Another Technique for Refining a Portrait

Added on by Lara Hoke.

Many artists project the source image on canvas and trace the outlines.  In my portrait work, I've found this approach to be helpful when working in the dry, precise medium of graphite.  However, it is totally useless when I work in oil.  My painting process involves loose application of paint, blending, wiping, and reapplication of paint.  If I traced the image, it would be like painting between the lines or color by number.  The painting would have no life of its own.

In addition to overlaying the in-progress portrait over the source photo (see the previous post), I've started outlining the source photo in Photoshop and overlaying the drawn outline over a photo of the painting in progress.

Original with Line Overlay, Painting, Painting with Overlay

Using Technology to Capture Likeness

Added on by Lara Hoke.

Periodically while I work on a portrait I use Photoshop to overlay a photo of the painting on the source image.  Not a fancy technique by any means, but a hugely useful one.  By overlaying the images I can see immediately where my painting is off.  For example, in the first series below, I can easily see that my painting is too straight on.  Rather than directly facing the camera as I've painted him, the subject is turning slightly toward his right.  In the second series I see several issues.  The most important of which are the tilt of the head and the placement of the right eye.

Capturing the spirit of the subject can't be helped by technology.  Thank goodness at least likeness can.

Source Image, Portrait in Process, Overlay

Source Image, Portrait in Process, Overlay

Stages of a Portrait

Added on by Lara Hoke.

I've been working on this portrait of my friend Ariyele for quite some time.  I intitally started it back in May 2009.  I worked from life, I think we had two sittings of about an hour or two each, and was very pleased with how the portrait was progressing.  After the second sitting, I continued to work on it from a photograph.  The portrait became very severe - as you can see below in the image on the far right - and I put it away in mild disgust for over a year.

Earlier this month I took the painting out of storage, sanded it down a bit, and began working back into it.  Using thick layers of opaque painting mixed with subtle glazes of color I was able to soften the hard edges and bring life back into the painting despite the fact that I was still only working from a photograph.

Ariyele, late October 2010

Ariyele, early October 2010Ariyele, May 2009

Update from the Studio, February 2010 Edition

Added on by Lara Hoke.

Coasters in Various States of ProgressA few weeks ago I was trolling Design Sponge and came across this DIY project that used cedar slices to create customized silhouettes, and I thought hey, those would make great coasters.... but where do I get the wood? Meanwhile, my month-old Christmas tree sat sagging in the corner and voila! - a project was born!

Using slices of the pine tree, a stamp carving kit, and various types of stain and polyurethane, I'm working on creating an army of coasters.

Army of CoastersThe first image to the left is a close up of one coaster pretty far along in the process.  The second photo is of the gathering army.


The next three images are paintings in progress.  The first two paintings were begun months ago but never taken much further than the inititial color blocking, so I'm re-working them, trying to bringing in more colors and depth. 

The last image is Kim.  I've addd a few more transparent layers of color but what it really needs is a few days of serious work because all of the transparent layers have caused it to lose some of it's structural believability.

Looking at these paintings makes me realize two things - 1. I need to work on a big painting in which the subject is not front row and center and 2. My next portrait cannot be of a person looking to their right.