Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 30 in 30 — A Walk With Bepa

A Walk With Bepa, 7"x5", oil on gessobord panel, ©2013 Cindy Greene

This is a painting I've been wanting to do for a very long time. A faded photo of my father and my eldest daughter is on my bulletin board, and has always been one of my favorites. The toddler is now a wife and budding knitwear designer, and my dad passed away 14 years ago. I didn't notice until I scanned and enlarged the photo that Emily is wearing her favorite stretchy heart bracelet on her upper arm. She has always had her own original sense of style!

It's funny how the painting developed. I sketched the figures lightly in thinned paint, and had to do very little correction. It took quite a long time for such a small painting, but the figures went pretty quickly. It's the background that gave me trouble. The reference photo was taken in a park with some rather straggly small trees, and people in the background. The trees and people just didn't work with the composition, and the dry brownish grass in the photo wasn't very attractive. 

So I borrowed Julie Ford Oliver's idea of using a piece of glass held over the painting to try out different ideas — I painted the changes on the glass first and snapped a photo. Then looking at the viewfinder, I could see if the design was improved or not. It took a few tries, but it is a brilliant tool. Thanks, Julie! 

Here are some photos I snapped of the process — it might be interesting to you how it went.

I toned the panel with diluted burnt sienna, and wiped it off.
It will help counter all that green. I hope.

Got the figures sketched in, the darks in the jeans and shirt,
and my original idea for the background

My dad is looking pretty good, and I'm working on Emily

Emily is coming along, and I've greened up the grass.
Not happy with the background.

Glass! Painted a brighter sky to see how that looks. Nah.

More glass — painted in a darker background of distant trees. Better.

Added some distant trees on the painting. Better,
but I don't like the little tree. Too distracting.

Glass again. Made the tree(s) less distinct. Much better.

Corrected the trees on the painting. I like this background much better;
it gives context without distracting from the figures.

Finished for the night, but there are a few places I want to adjust.
Too much yellow halo around my dad's sleeves and Em's right leg isn't right.

I'm happy with the final result. Also corrected Emily's hair, and
added some shadow under the tree on the left.
Thanks for sticking with me this far!


  1. Cindy, what a precious painting! I enjoyed seeing how you changed it along the way too. Thanks so much for sharing. Hope to see you soon for another painting day at the beach.

    1. thank you Jeanne! I thought it was good to document the process, and that it might help someone. I really like using the piece of glass to try out options. Let's paint soon.

  2. Hi Cindy I really enjoyed seeing this. You solved some problems very well and I loved seeing your choices. It turned into a great painting with a lot of emotional feeling.
    Thank you for the credit. I am placing a link on my blog for the 13th. Too late to get it in tomorrows.

    1. Thanks, Julie. I have my piece of taped glass here on my painting desk; it will be part of my process now. Brilliant!

  3. Cindy, this painting and your story gave me goosebumps. It is so precious! What a great idea for testing out a painting... thanks for sharing and explaining in detail, this helpful tip. I can't believe this is all on a 5x7, wow!

    1. Thank you Linda. I'd wanted to do it for a long time! And I'm glad you found the glass tip helpful; so simple but if Julie hadn't blogged about it, I don't know if I'd thought of it.

  4. Loved seeing how you used Julie's idea. I have a problem area in a painting I'm going to use this on. Great ptg btw.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. What great timing that Julie had just posted about it; it happens to me so often. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Love this Mom! Great job with Bepa's shirt and Em's dress <3


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