So let's call them into the scene starting with the two boys and then their pets.
First, I mix some flesh colors using burnt sienna, yellow, red, blue and white in various values of light, medium and dark. Then I paint these colors in the skin areas keeping the right side darker because it's the shadow side.
I paint the clothing before working on the facial details. This will help me get the colors and values right.
Finally, I add details using the photos that I'd been given as a guide. This is not a quick process. It takes time and lots of patience to get the boys to look the way I want them because I do not have photos of them in a running position or with their heads turned as they are here:
The younger boy had expressive eyes and my goal is to capture that.
The older boy did not ever have a chance to run and play since he died before birth, but his twin brother who is now age 11 survived. I use photos of the twin as reference for his features. I want to keep the face and hair soft and somewhat angelic looking.
When the boys are painted, I add a gray cat, one of the family pets:
And then a golden retriever:
Since I paint pet portraits much more often than people, the animals take less time to paint.
Next is a chocolate Labrador retriever:
Now the Happy Place has come alive with the joy of children and animals!
For a final touch, a pair of bluebirds flit about in the pear tree. They are not noticeable, unless you look closely at the painting but they are there: bluebirds of happiness.
Since the sides and top edges of the canvas are painted, we cannot forget the bottom. I turn the painting upside down to paint the bottom edge:
While the painting is upside down, I check everything out. Because I am not seeing things as they normally are when a painting is turned upside down, anything that is not drawn or painted accurately tends to jump out at me. If I can see it, I can fix it.
In this case, there were a couple of small things that I noticed like places where the paint was not covering the canvas enough, so I touched them up.
Here is the completed oil painting: you can click it to see it larger
Here are the other two parts of this three part demo:
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