Portraits of Kiana and Breea 
Damar, wax, oil medium
grisaille in white and black gesso

Painted and sealed on 1/4" linen on birch plyboard with wax and damar.

We meet in the park to talk and make this sketch.
Pre drawing
Nov. 29th 2001

The first day on location with the girls, mom and dad. 
This is the layout we decided on.
Breea would ride a turtle and Kiana would be with a dolphin.
I retrieved some photos from the internet and took some photographs of the girls.

Breea is going to ride the turtle.

This is Kiana, I was going to have her holding a dolphin's fin.

Day 2


This is all in charcoal. Now to capture the outlines. 
I used a very thin liner brush dipped into a very thin acrylic
medium to paint on the charcoal. This left a line.


The starfish are going to be the source of light.

I captured the outlines and used charcoal to figure out my contrasts in gray scale.

I see in this small image that Kiana's left arm is too big and her right foot is too small.

I'm not happy with Kiana's left foot either.

I made this charcoal correction after whiting out the old foot.

This position is more natural.

This is Breea's charcoal layout.

Isopropyl alcohol is my choice of a brush cleaner for acrylics to get the ferrule clean.
Because I have been painting layers on top of layers the paint was getting thick and showing texture lines.
I sand papered them smooth. Work from dark to light with white, it's much easier with thin to thick white then making shades of gray.

Computers are so cool, this is a color test.
Ready for color.
December 16, 2001, Ready to add color.

Day 1, If you want to draw with paint, damar and wax is the medium to use. It sets up faster.
Mix damar 75% and wax 25% and 100% turpentine.

Here is day 2, 8 hours, outdoors with indirect northern light. Perfect conditions.

The hair was done with wax and damar, just like the background. Wax and damar set up faster then oil, and it dries and sets from within. Oil on the other hand dries from the outside in and is irreversible once dry. If you want the kind of control that allows you to draw with a brush, like in the girls hair, wax and damar is the medium.

The dolphin's head, the turtle's back and Breea's legs were done with a little Venetian balsam 3/5 and cold pressed linseed oil 2/5 added to the damar and wax, 50-50. This made a medium that would not set as fast so I could work the paint longer. It doesn't set and dries slowly.

Another advantage of wax and damar is because it dissolves.  I could wipe out the background mountain.

The white on the main star was pigment mixed with damar only, this guarantees it will not yellow. Oil or drier would yellow. So it may take a few days for the white to dry before I do anything else with it.

Day three. 

There is an error on Breea's right cheek area.
This is a detail of Breea's face photographed in the sun.
I had been painting in the shade and didn't notice the incorrect gesso build up and line painted in the grisaille stage.

 Notice that texture ridge is not obvious in the first detail, because it was taken in the shade.

The second image is sanded with #400 grit sandpaper.
The third and forth images were cleaned back to the white gesso with isopropyl alcohol.
Now the area is ready for new paint.

Day four. The face is has been repainted. This photograph was taken within the shade.

This day four photo was in the sun. 
See the shadow slashing the mountain.. It's very important to photograph you're work in the sunlight, and with no apparent glare.

Day 5
Kiana gets a layer of color on top of the grayscale grisaille

Today I added a lot of color into Kiana and a bathing suit top on Breea that she left me.

Day 8
Darken the dolphin

Although this photo was taken in incandescent yellow light I still want some of the Sienna color underwater.

Day 9
The mountains in the background were added today. The mountain colors reflect the turtle and the dolphin colors.
Day 10
Re-did both of Breea's feet. I decided Breea's left, 'picture right foot', was too long and shortened it. 
Then changed the angle of her right foot.
Breea's right eye had a slight position change. 
All of these changes were taken down to the white gesso with sandpaper and isopropyl alcohol before repainting.
Breea brought her bathing suit in today so I captured the rest of the colors and added the belt. 

I shortened the forearm of Kiana also and that meant a new hand in a new position. 
Both girls brought bracelets with them to be added.

The next portrait I paint is going to be in acrylics, it's just faster to make changes. Oh sure, you could just paint over areas that need changing but because of sponifacation in the white, under images could someday show through. 
That's the way it works with lead white, there are no 50 year old transparency tests for titanium yet but I want to paint safe so I sand down to the gesso.

January 31, 2002
Ohh, it's been slow. I made a mistake painting the whole picture in black and white gesso. I planed to just glaze color on to it. Ha, that didn't account for the mistakes I didn't see in the beginning. Every time I made a major change I had to get back to the white gesso again.
I should have left it all white and drew in the drawing in mastic and wax. That way I could have made all these changes easily.

Today I added the sky and a rainbow, why not I thought, I always liked rainbows. I painted the yellow and orange of the rainbow in today, I'll let that dry and it will be easier to add the other colors. Lighter under the rainbow, even when the sky is clear. Have you ever seen a vapor rainbow with not a cloud in the sky? It is Awesome.  

Anyway, here I am 2 months after the start date changing the figures and working on the intense colors in the water.

And wondering if I should add blue to the sky.
Little girls hands are delicate and they can bend in different ways than adults hands. 
I haven't been seeing enough of the girls so that kind of adds to my work but I see the way the neighbor's little girls hands shape up.

February 2
I want Kiana's hair to really do a lot, mixing with the dolphins bubbles, making glowing stars and blending with the sparkling water diamonds from the sun on the waters surface.
Breea's bathing suit gets a belt to match Kiana's suit.

February 7
I'm still working everyday but the changes are so subtle I'm not photographing the changes.
The mastic is working very well, erasing easily and painting as thick as I want the stroke. Damar mastic is a very forgiving medium. Back in the days when artists worked under masters as apprentices, the first medium they worked in was glue. Cherry gum made a good one. Mastic was next. Later in history oil, began replacing mastic in the north and finally all over Europe. Students never stopped learning in mastic first, because it is the easiest and most forgiving painting medium. As an extra bonus, it doesn't yellow. All oil yellows.

Today I finished the rainbow and the turtle and am working on the background mountains now. The kids stopped by and Kiana had a new ring she wanted to add, Breea needs some more eyelashes.

February 9
The dolphin needs more color. The rainbow comes in closer.

February 19
I've been working on the final finish. Since this is painted with damar and wax, I used a mastic final varnish. Adding wax to the final finish removes the gloss of the mastic. With this technique the gloss areas reflect the light and add a new dimension to the painting. I made the stars and rainbow glow. I learned this dimension of painting with picturatranslucida. There one paints on a shiny silver surface and is conscious of the reflection through transparent pigments and the final finish. 
No starGlowing star

February 25
Finished! 3'x4'

Final photo image

This is the most accurate photo color image, it was taken in a studio.
This pigment based ink "Giclee" pronounced, geeclay, print on canvas, 3'x4'.

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