Caged Heart – WIP Part 1

I’ve had an idea/canvas sitting around in my vicinity for a while and I’ve finally taken the plunge to paint a large portrait. Personally I find portraits challenging only because what I end up painting is never what the actual image looks like. A crippling personal flaw which I’ve been trying to overcome for years. The challenge here though is minimised a touch because the person doesn’t actually exist.

The idea ia an amalgam of two digital images I did a few years ago – a self portrait of a clown getting up facing his morning demons; and a symbolic tarot card image with a cavity in the chest housing a caged heart. This would be an extension of both of those images, but also an exercise in detailing human skin for hyper realism.

Here’s the Work In Progress so far:

Sketch work to work out positioning and scale. At this point I haven’t worked out what the shadows would be, but it was more than likely a single point light source from above. Here you can see the maths of transferring the image onto canvas as I scale up a grid. The canvas is 24 by 36 inches.




Here’s the sketch in pencil on the painted over canvas. The original image on the canvas was a scene from Adele’s Rolling In The Deep video which I haven’t touched since 2009. I painted over the canvas with a semi thick layer of white to get rid of the blues and purples, but obviously not enough for it to look like a lavender explosion. Nevertheless, the light purple will add a good complimentary tone base of the skin tones I’m thinking of employing.


Here’s the background colour done to help visualise the tones on the foreground. Seasoned artists seem to have worked out how to paint foreground before background for their images. I seem to work the other way around because of my lack of experience with colour. It’s gonna be a warm blood red fading to purple.


I forgot the reason why I stopped working with traditional media – dirt! I really don;t miss smudging carbon/graphite across pristine white surfaces. Admittedly, most of the pencil work has been covered up or wiped off at the time of typing this, but I’ve had to wash my hands a fair few times because my work surface is white and the smudges are annoying.


Using a Burnt Umber wash to paint over the pencil lines to establish the painting and some shading zones. I also reduced the forehead/hair which was exaggerated due to distortion.


Playing with some colour tones. Using only a limited palette of (Acrylics) Warm Red, Warm Yellow, Violet and White. Burnt Umber is currently a wash I’m using to establish some tonal variations.


Base tones put down – time to start working on detailing. (I think the nose looks too small, but let’s see what happens).



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