Painting a Portrait

I just finished a new painting and have photographed as I went along, so anyone interested could see how she evolved. I really like looking at these from other artists, so here’s my contribution.

This characater, ‘Lucinda’ started as a sketch 12 days ago. My Dad gave me a collection of Victorian era portraits, and the faces and the clothes inspired this.
From the sketch I drew it onto a larger board (45 x 60 cm)in charcoal.


I also shaded her hair which I do so that I can see what the hair is doing. If I just leave it, the painting part is a lot more difficult for me. Then I sparayed fixative on the charcoal (which was a bit fruitless but I learned something). Then I painted a wash of colour on the hair. This worked way better than fixative, but left it muddied because it wasn’t opaque yet.


I took a couple of days to finish the hair. Every colour that’s in this painting is in the hair. It’s important, for colour harmony to establish a few basic colours and use just those for the whole painting, unless you deliberately want a diverse pallette.


Her face was next, applying really light washes until I was happy.


The lilies took the longest for me, I’m definitely not well practiced in the botanicals! Had a great time with the cheeky little birds though.


This photo was taken under the light at night, but I kind of like the effect. This was the beginning of the background, a wash. I liked the drip effect but then decided it wasn’t what I was going for on this particular painting so I fixed that up with trial and error and sandpaper.


I added in her clothing and little birdhouse necklace, and finished. Tweaked a few colours in photoshop.



Close up of her freckles:

Now I have to figure out whether to add a glaze or frame behind glass, not sure. I’ll ponder it while I walk the dog who’s been ever so patient while I’ve been stuck into this painting! Poor Max.
(Edited to add: I think I’ll go for glass)
Thanks for looking! Prints available here. T-Shirt or sticker available here.
~ Sarah

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16 Responses to Painting a Portrait

  1. Artswebshow says:

    this is amazing.
    I like how you showed all different stages

  2. rosie says:

    This is fantastic, Sarah! The hair is amazing, but my favourite part is the close up of her face with freckles. Ab. gorgeous. Well done, you. I hope this has given you inspiration for more of this type/size.

    • sarahmac2 says:

      Thanks Rosie! I was thinking of your little people with the freckles πŸ˜‰
      It has inspired me but for now I think I’ll go back to the drawings while the next painting idea comes to me πŸ™‚

  3. Pauline says:

    Gorgeous Sarah!!!

    I do enjoy the work-in-progress pics! Always fascinating process πŸ™‚
    Also love the wood support you painted on.

    *thumbs up*

  4. Alicia says:

    She’s gorgeous Sarah, love the ‘Angel Kisses’ and progress shots, fantastic!

  5. Jaz says:

    Lovely work! Thanks for the work-in-progress shots! πŸ™‚

  6. thegabbingmind says:

    I love the portraits you paint – they are really beautiful. I’m no good at art myself but I think you are so talented. It’s also such a great touch that you take photos of the process, it adds a humanness and a sense of the work behind the art. I just wanted to share my appreciation, thank-you for showing these. PS. I love the little details like the freckles on the girl!

  7. Thankyou for showing this process – wood is an unusual choice. Love the Victorian inspiration and absolutely adore that birdhouse necklace – great touch!

    • Sarah says:

      Thankyou Sharon!
      I really like the look of painting on timber so I’m definitely going to continue to use it. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Hi Sarah,
    I love to see how other artists process their thoughts and processes whilst completing a painting. i have seen many paintings done in the same style, many look like the subject is dead! Your painting feels vibrant and alive, she is really beautiful and love the freckles, her hair, the cute little birds and also the birdhouse “choker” she is wearing. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah Mac says:

      Hi Christine! Thanks for taking the time to stop in, and for your kind comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the process!
      Thanks again, Kind Regards

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