When to Darken a Background on a Portrait Painting

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Rachel has sent me her delightful painting and has asked for my feedback, Rachel writes:

“This is the very first attempt to do a picture of my own, and I found it a bit scary. I did copy it and the original was much darker. I did not know what the best background should be so have made it very pale.”

When to Darken a Background on a Portrait Painting

I can understand Rachel’s reluctance to put in a darker background as this would certainly not have worked as the painting itself is so light .However it is possible to darken the background a little more as this would help to add contrast for the light shawl.

I would suggest that a mid-grey is applied to the whole background area and rubbed well into the existing base colour, 233 would be a good choice. I would then apply 181 on top of this again over the whole background, this could be followed with a blue, say 140 and blended into the background. Although 181 on its own is a strong colour it will not appear that way because of the lighter base colours.

One other point I would like to make is that the composition is changed, I have over laid a blue frame on Rachel’s painting to illustrate how I would do this. I would also bring the cloths down to the edge of the frame at the bottom, (see black arrow).

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By | 2018-03-15T15:13:14+00:00 December 15th, 2015|Portraits, Tips & Techniques|0 Comments