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Author Topic: Stephanie, the background , what to do?  (Read 292 times)

bruce johnson

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on: February 05, 2015, 11:39:46 PM
Often the most difficult decision in painting a portrait is ... How do I treat the background... I often agonise over this issue as if you get it wrong you can so easily kill the whole portrait...

In this first image I have pretty much completed the portrait apart from the fine detail process which I do as the last thing before signature... its now that I start to consider what to do with the background.... here i've started playing with a green background as it will complement the colours in the face and make the skin tones  sing...

My absolute golden rule with a background is that it must harmonize with the portrait. I have learnt the hard way by trashing a portrait, that colour temperature and hues in a background are as important as they are in the portrait itself... If a background is wrong it will look garish and out of tune with the portrait... the exception to the rule of course is if you are painting a background scene ie an office setting etc...
I have learnt a very simple trick to overcome this problem which is I use some of the colours from the portrait in the background itself.
In this image the warm green works well with the red hair but to tie the background and face together i have added some skin tones into the background... this creates a harmony and allows the viewers eye to absorb the portrait without being drawn to the background..

Hope this tip is of use to you folks


« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 11:42:43 PM by bruce johnson »


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Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 11:45:55 PM
 :yippee: An other freat portrait Bruce,   :thankyou: For the tips again.  Nice valuable info.

MaryAnne Long

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Reply #2 on: February 06, 2015, 02:01:05 AM

So very beautiful.  And thanks for the tip on the background.

I am in awe at your level of expertise.


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Reply #3 on: February 06, 2015, 01:21:05 PM
bruce my oh my!! this is beautiful so well executed  O0 thankyou also for the tip as regards the background, by the way love the background, it certainly does not take it away from the most beautiful of portraits  O0


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Reply #4 on: February 06, 2015, 02:55:09 PM
Looks brilliant Bruce. That background tip will help save many a painting by me I should think!  O0 :clap: :clap: :clap:


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Reply #5 on: February 06, 2015, 05:19:36 PM
Thank for your tips Bruce.
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Reply #6 on: February 06, 2015, 07:43:20 PM
 :clap: :clap: :clap:
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