Materials · Northern Neck Artisan Trail · oil painting · Reference Photos · Step-by-step

My Serenade

A long time ago the man who was to become my husband was learning to play the guitar. He was also a budding song writer and he wrote me a song; an actual serenade. Who would not have fallen in love?

I was also just beginning to find my way back to art via weaving and a little sketching and photography. I took a photo of him that I have always loved and I always thought it would make a great portrait painting if I ever got good enough again to pull it off.

At the time he was just beginning to go a little bit grey and he spent a great deal of time out in the sun but wore a hat at all times so while his neck was a deep cherry wood red, the rest of him was tanned in the oddest ways. Since his retirement, his beard and hair have grown out and turned completely white and he doesn’t spend quite as much time in the sun, so his neck is a bit less ruddy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t play the guitar much any more either. But I still remember the song.

There were things that happened at various points in this progress of this painting and I learned to accept some really interesting serendipitous moments… like the blue from the shirt dripping down over the dark of the guitar.

I am happy with most of this painting in fact… the unfinished edges on the right convinced me to go back and actually rub out his arm on the left. The gold chain is absolute illusion with just little dabs of yellow ochre. I re-drew his face (especially the jaw law and chin) several times through the course of the painting. He says his nose if not so big (it is, but he’s never really seen himself in the mirror from a three quarter view) and he swears his mutton chops were never that long, but it just depended on how rushed he was when grooming. On the day I took his photo, they were.

In any case, I used some new paint (Michael Harding) and some new colors and was happy to have successfully mixed my own black. Ultramarine blue came back into this palette because nothing else would have worked for that shirt. Quinacrine Magenta (Gamblin), Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Green, and Warm White (Michael Harding) really helped me catch his skin tones.

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