100 OIL PORTRAITS IN 100 DAYS - Lauren, 63/100, © Carol Nelson Fine Art

Day 63

Another sweet face! This photo appealed to me of course because of the lighting. I guess I just like to make my life difficult. It's a fine line between making it look like sunlight streaming on her face and warpaint! I'm not sure if I succeeded totally on this one. One way to paint this would have been to paint the face then add the sun stripes afterward on top - maybe I should have done it that way.
Instead I painted the face leaving the sun stripes unpainted until I mixed the proper color and then painted them in. For purchase information on this portrait, please see my website, or email me at carolnelsonfineart@comcast.net.

Question for my readers: Why is it that people prefer a painted portrait over a photograph? The camera is much more accurate. Some say I captured the spirit of the person, but I don't personally know most of my portrait subjects, and I am working from a photograph, not real life.
I do study the photograph VERY carefully, but still, it is only one image of that person.
I'm curious to hear your responses to this question.


AutumnLeaves said...

Gosh, she is cute. I think you handled the sun stripes beautifully. This little doll looks a bit familiar to me; maybe like someone I saw on TV (Rory's nemesis in that tv show that started with a 'G', if memory serves).

Anyway, for me the painted portraits are preferred - if they look realistic - because they are much more unique than photographs. Also because I love seeing the talents of artists and to have it personalized...not sure I can articulate what I am thinking...Maybe it is because for a short moment in time, something or someone that matters to you, matters to someone in whom I hold great admiration and respect (the artist).

SarahBowie said...

The sun stripes look great when the painting is made smaller or viewed from a distance. I think your technique was a good one.

kim Blair said...

Hi Carol:
I like the way you approached this painting of Lauren. I would be very surprised if her parents do not purchase this piece as a keepsake for her. The striped light across her face adds some extra creativity to the portrait... I am a big lover of stripes!

You already have your entry done (with this one) for the April art challenge.

mizmilvi said...

I think we expect a photograph to be perfectly realistic (whatever the result) and might not see it is as an interpretation of the photographer's work. A portrait, on the other hand, is more definitively someone else's work, and might give us an idea of how others view us. Or not... :-)

Kathleen said...

Hello Carol,

You did a WONERFUL Job. The portrait is darling. You've captured that gentle, wide eyed innocence that is SO Lauren. I'm just ecstatic!!! Of course, I went right into PayPal and purchased it. That photo of Lauren with the sun across her face was taken when she was about 7 or 8 years old. Thought you might like to see her as a lovely, grown up 15 year old! Here she is with her brother Nick. Taken last week on their vacation.

Thank you again. I will give this to Lauren as a Birthday Gift!

Kathleen Wackowski

Debbie said...


My friend Kristin Woodward paints like you do, and I would have painted #63's face face first and then painted the light on top.

This is one of my favorites that you've done. It is dramatic without unusual coloring. I love love the light you captured!

It's fun to watch your progression as you move forward.

Answering your question: for me, paintings are much more interesting texturally. People also connect with different artist's interpretations of the subject.
I ran a gallery in Santa Fe on Canyon Rd, and owned my own in Durango Co. People told me that paintings came from the hands of a live person, when a camera is a machine.
I like photos, too....but paintings have more life for me and draw me to them.

You don't have to know a person to produce a beautiful interpretation of their personality. I don't do people portraits, but I work from photos as I am slow and deliberate, and it's too hard to finish a painting with objects moving around.

Carol, I would love to know your reason behind and your experience so far of your "100 in 100" project?

I will miss not waking up to see each new painting from you on my computer.

I also look for Mom (Ethel), when you have time. I love paintings of the old with the tissue-like wrinkles. She was such a love.


Debbie Park-Boussu

Carol Nelson said...

Hi Debbie,
Thank you for your kind words about my art. I have been getting a lot of thoughtful interpretations on photo vs portrait, but I think you explanation is one of the best.
As for the reason behind my project - I was mulling over the success of some daily painters online, and was wondering how I could increase traffic to my blog and website.

I also participated in Karin Jurick's blog, Different Strokes from Different Folks. Her end of the year challenge was for all the artists to send in a photo of themselves. She then distributed them so that each artist had to paint another artist's photo. It was SO FUN to see how each artist interpreted the photo they were given.

Many of my best ideas occur to me between 6 and 7 in the morning when I'm half awake. I suddenly thought why don't I say I'm going to do 100 in 100 and ask for photos? The experience has been WONDERFUL. I never really thought of myself as a portrait painter before this. I'm SO GLAD I said I would be doing them in semi-Fauvist style with the wild colors and prominent brush work and that the people DID NOT have to purchase them. Do you know how tired I would be by now of mixing up Caucasian skin tone?!?!

That gave me complete control of the project. I warned people that I would only choose to paint the ones that appealed to me as an artist. I've been very clear about the photo requirements and some have sent me 5-8 photos trying to get the lighting right. I've corresponded with people from all over the world and have made some true virtual friends.

It has been more work than I thought, however. Then my husband's surgery right in the middle has made it very stressful. Still, I'm very glad I'm doing it.

colorhound said...

Carol, this is another great job. My thoughts on your question is, yes a photo is more accurate,but a portrait is a human creation with interpretation. I will take the portrait every time. colorhound(Eugene)

Sue Donaldson said...

Carol, Lauren's portrait is one of the best. The way you chose to do the shadows across her face are very effective and beautiful. An answer to your question: Painting a portrait vs a camera portrait is, to me, like night and day. As Debbie more or less said, "a camera is a machine and even though it may be operated by an artist, it is not as personal; an artist w/ paint and brush seems more to catch the essence/spirit of a person." The nuances are different - not as slick nor alive.

Dusty Pines said...

the way you did the 'stripes' worked perfectly - def reads as light!

to me, even tho you're working from a photo, you still capture something of the person beyond what's shown in the photo . . . thinking abt it, it must be that you put some of you into each one! your interpretation of/response to the person in the pic, and this gives the painting the greater power . . .

yr idea of a portrait series was inspired!

Gwen Bell said...

This is one of my all time faves...love those rays of light. You painting this beautiful young girl with such personality and life!

Dean Grey said...


You most definitely succeeded here. The sun stripes do not look like warpaint! LOL


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I agree with Autumn Leaves.
You did a great job with the lighting on her face. Your portraits have life.