Lackluster: Retouching acrylic with oil layers

A few months ago, I created this work.
January Orchid, for the floral and sexual overtones of the figure/flower, but despite the fact that this is a sort of dark photograph, the colors have overtime, announced themselves to me that they are more than a little bland.

Even though I am known for often using vivid and varied color in my style, my personal aesthetic is to a more minimal and unified palette. Yesterday I was asked to pick a favorite color (true story) to match a photo and I could not pick one, but keep picking pairs of colors like gray and pale yellow, light blue and brown, and so on... My use of varied color may be a speculatory search for the perfect palette... or a recipe for beautiful mud! Either way I was shooting, here, for the beautiful pinks of paler orchids that are also echoed in portraiture that makes the skin so smooth and creamy, against a charcoal background. fail.

But to the point of blandness... really not so much a question of color entirely but tone. that background is so light, but not. and not dark. I went in with oils- umber/french ultramarine tints- and it immediately made her stand out.

<---Aside from this being in my natural studio light , there is no other change than the background colors at this point in reworking the painting.  I have been studying some contemporary portrait artists who use acrylic layers, then oil layers, to achieve the desired affects or use them in different areas of a work for texture and appearance. A lot of venues where I've been exhibiting locally are more family oriented as well so this lady was a perfect candidate for the experiment in the interim. She also received some oil layers on her body, but not on her hair where there is a lovely swirly texture from thick pink & white acrylic.

I have been asked on more than one occasion where I find faces and figures for portraits, and where there are good resources to find references. The figure in this piece was based on a few live sketch group sessions (if you have these in your area they are soooooo beneficial!) with a model of similar frame. The face is loosely based on a German fashion model, although this is not her hair, eyes, and even her nose has been altered as her head orientation is a little different. Some of my portraits could be described as "character work" or "illustration" depending on the level of stylization. While I know many artists that work from photos, when I stylize a face it will not be the same, unless a client has asked me to make a very representational piece- even then my drawing style is more intuitive. If you are looking for references for bone structures or faces and such online, a good place to check is morguefile or the stock photo files on deviantart (note: some stock photographers may want you to link to their accounts if you use their references as a courtesy).

The finished piece, before framing: January Orchid

Technically she is not the first oil-over-acrylic piece I have done. Persephone Hungers is also a painting in this medium (she's on my blogger banner at the top of the page as of the date of this blog). Both can be viewed in my Facebook albums of 2012 work.

I am about to start framing for events for summer/fall so many new works will be made available online soon. Stay tuned!