Sleepless Surrender

Sleepless Surrender is the second in my Motherhood series. I fell in love with this photo used by permission of Photographer and Author Naomi Lynn

This Mother and Child Figurative painting is the second in my Motherhood series. This painting reflex the sleepless nights and the selfless sacrifice of a mother to do what is needed for the the child to have peace and be able to sleep, even if that means she stay awake. I was drawn to the beauty in the the exhausted eyes depicting not only her tiredness but also a relaxed peace that at least finally her child has found rest.

As always I start by drawing the image out onto my canvas. With this series I have pre-toned the canvas with a thin coat of transparent Iron oxide. This is such a vibrant color and adds such a glow to the background and even shines thought the layers of paint that go over it, giving the painting a warmth that expresses motherhood perfectly.

I then block in the basic values, tones, highlights and dark shadows, paying attention to shape and form.

Once I have all the basics in place and I am happy with the composition and colors I have chosen I will start to add in detail and add layers of glazing to push and pull the values darker or lighter where needed and to add a look of reflected light.

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Sleepless Surrender

While I usually push my paintings into a realism with fine blending and detail, I wanted to leave this series blocky and un edited you might say. Raw, Real, yet Unfinished. These are the feelings I’m trying to portray. My use of bold color and contrast of cool and warm tones is to show the contrast in emotions that so comfortably sit side by side in a mothers struggle to care properly for her children. A sacrifice that is not always appreciated by the baby, toddler youth or teen. But she continues on doing her best anyway. No Matter What, because she loves her children more than life itself!

Quiet Time

It seams like I have gone from a year long dry spell to an oasis of ideas. Working on several pieces at a time. This painting was so much fun and yet so much of a challenge. I wanted to do her with a loose brush stroke to give it a relaxed feeling as the pose is of my daughter Jenny relaxing and with me and a cup of hot chocolate. As I often do as I am talking to someone I think of how I would mix the colors to paint her face or the color of reflected light that catches her chin. Then I was struck by her relaxed pose and did the mom thing and pulled out my phone and snapped a few quick shots before she realized I was doing so.

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SO of course I started with a sketch and traced it onto my canvas as always. I worked on blocking in the back ground and then started on the face. I know I should do other things first but I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to painting faces. I just can’t wait to get at it. This painting proved to me a true test as I lost her face completely a hundred times. well maybe not actually 100 but close.

When painting faces especially portraits that  you want to look like a specific person, the larger the painting the easier it is to get those features right. This painting is only 12″ x 16″ So her face is only about 2″ big. this makes getting subtle value changes and warm light cool light areas a little more difficult. Plus at this size if you facial features are off by a hair width you have a different person interlay.

Also I had a hard time getting her eyes to look up like in the photo. This doesn’t seem to be that bad but even if the eyes are the correct shape it changes the mood of the subject. I wanted the upward glance because it was happy and hopeful. But I kept getting the straight ahead gaze which made her look sad or even one time mad, which was not what I wanted at all. Because it isn’t who my Jenny is. She is fun loving and cheerful and always thinking of new ideas. That is the feeling I wanted to capture.

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Here is a quick run through of all the faces of Jenny! LOL! I know she is blue for a while, It was an underpainting that eventually got painted over also. These are just a few of the many faces. Over the weeks of working on her I would get so frustrated paint over the face and start again, working on something else on the painting until the face painted area was dry and ready to work again. This actually worked great because I had a lot of time to spend on perfecting the other area of the painting that I might not have taken if the face turned out great the first time.

Here you can see the purple underpainting of the shadows on the sofa and pillows which eventually got glazed a lovely sand color. It makes it a little hard to judge if you are getting things right when you paint things in colors that they are not going to be, but it is truly the values that matter the most so if they are right everything will turn out fine in the end.

It can be hard sometimes as I post my works in progress as I work on them. Sometimes that pressure makes me work harder to get it right, other times it makes me wish I would have kept thins one to myself! LOL! But even with all the frustrations I am totally excited about how she turned out.

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Thank you so much for following my Works in Progress! You support and encouragement are so appreciated!

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Check out my online Portfolio @ Jackielittlemiller.com