Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Making of Judge Linda Ann Wells's Portrait

On July 11, 2013, I attending the unveiling of my portrait of Chief Judge Wells, Third District Court of Appeal, in Miami. Over the course of this commission, I came to know Judge Wells and her husband on not just a 'business-as-usual' basis, but as the gracious and generous couple they are.

Here are some photos of the process:

Above, oil sketch on stretched oil-primed linen. I spend a LOT of time working out the figure placement and composition before ever picking up a brush.

Above, the first thing I do in preparing to paint any part of my subject is to commit to a color and value for the background -it's nearly impossible for me to make any remotely accurate judgement about skin tones without adjacent color and value context. In this case, at the photo sitting,I had made the decision to light Judge Wells with a cool artificial light (6500 * K), to bring out the silvery tones in her hair and clothing.

 Above,  I've worked the skin tones and likeness far enough to begin working on the rest of the canvas, and left most of the hair still unpainted, so that I could go back in wet-in-wet to control the edges of the hair against skin and against background..

Above, I've painted the robe, so as to set up the edges that will be integrated with the hands and blouse.
Below, detail of Judge Wells's hands. She is wearing her West Point ring, and an antique bracelet.

The finished portrait below. From the early planning stages, I used areas of  both soft and crisp lights to move the eye around the canvas, all in support of my focal point. The orchids were in Judge Wells's office and I just managed their value, exact placement and edges to establish a rhythm to the surface.

Judge Wells is the first female Chief Judge in the District's history. I thought that the orchids brought a bit of femininity to the concept, atop some of her legal books.

Montgomery Frames in Tempe, AZ did a fantastic job making the frame - I couldn't have been more thrilled! I stretched the linen on to heavy duty stretcher bars, so Dave at Montgomery added sufficient extra depth to the frame so that it would hang flush on the wall, instead of canting forward.

...and here she is on the courtroom wall:

...and of course a very short video of the unveiling:

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