"Mini" portrait in progress 5
Working on Mini’s eyes, the most critical part of the portrait. I started out this morning before I went in the studio, by reading the words Emily wrote about Mini and what she meant to her.
In the studio and ready to start, with all my reference photos on the monitor, and the eye colors picked out.
The large sheet of white paper with the opening cut for Mini’s head, is over the artwork to protect the pencilwork on the completed hellebore flowers. The colors for her eyes are just above where I’ll be working. The pencils on the other two sheets of paper were the colors I used for the hellebore foliage (upper left) and black blossoms (center). I don’t put those collections away yet because there will be final touches on the hellebores after I get Mini finished.
I’m putting in the gold of her eyes with colored pencils, all the detail of an eye.
The next picture shows you why I left the paper color showing through on the eyes when I laid in that black watercolor wash for Mini’s black coat. The gold of her eyes is almost the same value (value = lightness/darkness) as the paper. If I had put black wash there, darkening the paper, it would be hard to get these bright, glowing golds with colored pencil over that charcoal grey. They would have been muddy and dull. Colored pencil is a transparent medium, so whatever color is under it shows through a little bit, no matter how hard you color.
That is part of the strategy I have to think through when I’m planning the steps of an artwork.
Focus on the ears and left eye and you can see how adding colored-pencil detail on top of the flat black wash starts to bring Mini to life.
Both of Mini’s gold eyes are finished.
I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get past the eyes in a portrait. If I don’t get the eyes right, the whole thing is a waste. Mini had very striking light gold eyes, so the color as well as the expression is critical. Those brilliant gold eyes in her black face is part of what made Mini look like Mini.