60" x 40", oil on panel, 2017, private collection
This is my portrait of Toronto-based musician, Kelsey McNulty, that I've submitted for the 2017 Kingston Prize for portraiture. She did a short residency at Small Pond last year and we did a little photoshoot around the grounds. When I saw the results, I asked if I could paint a couple and submit one of them for the KP exhibition.
The other painting (Kelsey Shade) I did was equally large, but was a tight close-up of her face and, while it also turned out well, I chose to submit this one because the musical element made for a better formal portrait.
Here are my previous submissions* for that exhibition:
George Emlaw (2011)
Self Portrait (Shoulders) (2013)
George Meanwell (Concertina) (2015)
*The Kingston Prize happens only every other year.
The big picture(s).
Get up, stand up.
My modelling gear is set up on that table behind me, but the paintings took precedence (as I worked like crazy to make the April 28 deadline) and I didn't get much building done.
Note the new 5-bulb "medusa" lamp behind me; two cool LEDs and three warm LEDs make for nice bright and colour-balanced light.
On the wall are a couple of paintings which were among my very first attempts at oils in the early 2000s: Two Doorways (left), and Stairway (right). On the floor to the right are two large commissions I was working on concurrently with the two larger portraits.
Blocking in shadows.
Blocking in mid-tones.
It also looks a little heavy-handed, but my instincts told me the colours and modelling are actually okay.
Also, blocking in the hair softened the harshness of the facial colours and reassured me that I was pretty much on the right track; I just needed to knock back some of that adjacent orange.
Reiterated shadows in hair.
More facial modelling and hair highlights.
A few more adjustments.
Background and shirt.
On second thought, yeah, I totally planned it.
Face and hair refinements.
This. Was. A. Beast.
I'm thinking of doing a whole series of musical instruments to make up for whatever shortcomings there are here...
I wasn't intimidated by the complexity of this instrument until I actually started working on it. But I wasn't worried about anything other than time. With only a few days left, could I adequately render this thing to look anywhere near satisfying? Well, "satisfied" will have to do...Am I happy with the accordion? About 85%. Happy enough to put down the brushes and hit the "submit" button.