Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Bread

'Daily Bread'
15 x 20 watercolor - finished!

"Our task is to become our best selves. One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."  - Thomas S. Monson

This painting was a combination of joy and frustration. Joy because it was a portrait of a good friend, and there was some STUNNING light at work here. Frustration because it was a portrait of a good friend and I wanted it to be the best I could paint. I tend to stress myself out about that, needlessly I guess, but so be it. And really are we ever satisfied with the current painting on our easel? Probably not. But that's what makes us strive right?

I can say that I'm happy with where this painting is now, although I think I may be revisiting this theme again. Only because I have learned so much from this painting that next time I'll know what I would like to do differently.

I thought I'd talk a little bit about my process for anyone who was interested. If you have any questions you'd like to ask feel free.

work in progress - stage two

work in progress stage one 

 Stage one: The beginning washes are used to establish facial proportions and lay the foundation for the rest of the painting. I like to start my paintings by using the lightest value of a color in the darkest areas. I paint the darkest areas first, but with the lightest possible value. This makes what I like to call a road map. It makes for a much more enjoyable painting experience if you know right at the beginning that you have an accurate 'road map' to follow. At this point I'm painting more by feel than anything else, color selection is largely based on warm and cool areas, not too much consideration is given to the actual shade. 

Stage two: Now the fun begins. Once I know the painting is accurate I start to use more vibrant colors, focusing mostly on yellows and pinks. I'm careful with each layer of color, only laying it down and letting it blend. I don't go back in and guide it anywhere, I lay it down and then I leave it alone. This lets me build up color and form gradually and gives me a fresh look without as much of a risk of overworking it.

Stage three: Finish work. From here on out I'm much more conscious of how this painting looks as a whole. Does it flow? Is there an obvious center of interest? Where do I need stronger values or softer edges? This stage usually takes the longest amount of time because I step back so frequently to look at it and see what needs to be improved. More time looking, less time painting.

And I see that in my poll for what I should paint next the landscape and the faery girl are neck and neck! I just knew you guys would make me do a landscape. Jeez, why'd I have to put that up there? ;)

And, Kim I believe I will do an architectural something or other, you have intrigued me. :) Great suggestion.


  1. Very strong painitng. The desk gives off a rich glow complimenting the white shirt nicely. Love the title too.

  2. The complementary colors in the shirt really draw my eye and add depth from stage 2. Nice work!

  3. Crystal it is a beautiful portrait. You have such wonderful reflections and colors working in this painting. Fantastic job:)

  4. stunning lights, glowing whites, warm skin tones as well the desk and cool background--perfect combination! Bravo :) Love it!!!

  5. Beautiful painting. Wonderful blog. Thanks for visiting mine.

  6. Absolutely wonderful, Crystal. He will love it, I'm sure.

  7. Wonderful! That white shirt is amazing!

  8. Crystal, this is wonderful, I am most drawn to the hand on the bible, love to see the work in progress, and how you get to the finished painting.

  9. This is a fantastic work. Your friend seems lost in his work. And then his shirt, the table top etc etc etc are just so brilliant.

  10. Beautiful Crystal, love the colours youve got in the shirt! I would love to see your interpretation of a tiger))

  11. I love to see each stage of a painting. It's a huge help for learners like me :0)
    Gosh - what can I say about this one? I love everything about it! The pages of the book he is reading, the reflections in the desk, the beautiful colours in the white of his shirt and I can almost feel the silkiness of his tie. It is just SO clever!
    I do have a question - You say that you know what you would do differently if you painted this again... Well, I am interested to know what that is???

  12. Ain't it weird how it's often easier to paint for strangers Crystal? But in the end you nailed it, I'm in love with that shirt and book, can't stop drooling at that dance of colors, great work :)

  13. The painting has a definite sense of the man's intensity while reading. The colours you have used throughout lighten what could have been an overly "moody" piece without taking away from the seriousness of your subject. Good job on a difficult piece. I always find men in ordinary white shirts with a tie, or wearing a suit, to be among the hardest types of subjects to make interesting!

  14. This is great, Crystal! It's beautiful. I love your paintings!

  15. First of all, that's a great quote. Secondly, I can't believe the glow you got on his shirt and skin. Wow, wow, wow! Is this a gift?
    And lastly...Yay! I really look forward to seeing what you're going to do! I sense greatness.

  16. Wonderful painting, love the glowing colors in the shirt and table. The folds in the shirt are fantastic.

  17. Splendid work. The way you have captured the shirt & reflections on the table is amazing.

  18. Its a pleasure looking at your work Crystal.The light on the folds of shirt is so perfect!Loved it.
    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog I highly appreciate it.

  19. Hi there Crystal!... I have much enjoyed my first (but certainly) not last to your wonder-filled site!

    Aside from your very exceptional portrait work... your writing style has a unique, compelling quality as well.

    In reading and looking through the information and images that "You" have shared... "I" find numerous interasections ...beyond the obvious passion for painting and writing.

    It is wonderful to discover and cultivate new friendships... over distance that inspire and encourage us as artists and people.

    Just an insightful guess... but Utah plus your Monson quote... perhaps reveals the core of your spiritual life and Self might point to another "connection" in our lives.

    Though "I" am no longer a practising Mormon... I was raised in the Mormon faith... and to this day embrace many of its teachings... Particularly the importance of Family.

    "I" am the product of that upbringing and am better by far... for it!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    PS "The Lord works... mysterious ways" (MY Mom).... does He not!!!

  20. Thank you SO much everyone for your kind and encouraging comments! Who has better blog readers than me?? No one, that's who. You guys are rock stars!! :)

    @ Sandra,
    what I'd do differently is paint the shirt in alternating layers. One layer of warm yellows and pinks, then once that was dry I'd go back in with the cool blues and purples. It's tricky to keep the integrity of the blue if it gets too close to the yellow. I got really close to some nasty greens that I was not going for in a few areas. :) I largely painted the shirt wet in wet and I think I would have liked this layered approach a little better.

    Yes it is a gift! I just gave it to him yesterday and he seemed very pleased with it. :)

  21. gracias Crystal por tus comentarios en mi blog, la verdad es que son de un gran estimulo para mi.
    gracias tambien por estos "paso a paso" con los cuales a la vez nos enseñas tu arte y tambien nos quedamos enamorados de tus pinturas.
    saludos desde Sevilla, jose

  22. Wow! This is so beautifully done. It really touches the soul and you can feel the peaceful moment.

  23. Thanks Crystal for commenting on my blog because of that I found yours. When I clicked in I was in awe at the main page painting. I just stared at it for a moment before I could move on to the blog content. Your art is so fresh and beautiful. I am so glad that I found your site.....


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment they really do mean so much to me! Because not all bloggers have their email enabled so I can reply directly through email I will try to reply here in the comments. If I don't please forgive me, life must have been hectic that day! :)) Huzzah!!

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