This is the starting place of new portrait of the McGrenera family. I visited their home and decided their beautiful back yard was the place to take lots of photos.

These are the best of the 35 or so shots taken:

My Favorite!

The subjects are in good position in this pic, except the dog.

I love the background! I could use less or more of the background. If I use more I will use a larger canvas. Which is fine!

I may move the boy in closer to the family and I have a good shot of the dog in the next photo.

[You can click on each picture to enlarge, then use the back arrow on the top left of your screen to come back here,]

The canvas size is 18″X24″. It has been coated with several layers of gesso primer for a smoother surface. Next is the actual drawing. I lightly sketch the figures and background carefully making measurements from a large computer screen. The objects and their relationship to each other are important for composition. Most important to me are the objects within the objects. For instance, the face is an object and the eyes, nose and mouth are objects with the face. They all have relationships each other. Those relationships are the how they are arranged on the face. If the eyes are too far apart or the nose is to close to the eyes, etc, then it will not look like the individual. So the sketch is a very important first step.

Next I paint over the lines of the faces with base color. The faces are the most important part of the painting as the eyes are the most important part of the face. So I have to get this right. Don’t judge too quickly whether or not they look exactly like their photo. There is layer upon layer and lots of detail that will be added. I am also beginning to add the dark base colors around the faces and some base skin color.

Before I get too far along on the foreground, I need to work on the background, because the foreground needs to be painted on top of the background. The background helps frame in the foreground and helps me with composition and values as I began. That may make sense to only me after years of practice and developing my style, (which is still in the development stage). Saturday, February 5, was a GOOD DAY!

02/13/11 – Got to work on this a few hours Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I finished that little bit of sky and trees in the distance. It greatly adds to the depth of the over all painting. The rest of the time was spent on faces. The eyes first, because the eyes have it! The eyes are the most important part of a portrait. they are not finished yet; go a little tweaking to do as the faces proceed. I also started adding more color and depth to the faces. I use a layer technique especially on the faces.

I mainly worked on the background this weekend. A few more hours and the back ground will be finished. There is a lot of finer detail work yet to do on the background that I will work on after the foreground is near complete. Lot’s work yet means lot’s of fun left!

I worked on some base colors for the clothing but most of my time this weekend was on the background. It is difficult to see all of it but most of the work was on the top left side. I worked on the far background behind the rocks (upper left) and the rocks. I spent a lot of time on the plants just to the right of those rocks. There are hundreds of dark leaves that will begin to get brighter ones on top of them later. You can see some of the brighter leaves placed over the rocks and beginning to come over the darker ones.

Next I may work on the faces and hair. Or I might cover some of the white canvas with base colors.

I got to work on dad’s and mom’s face this weekend. Dad’s is almost finished; 90%, mom’s, maybe 70%. It does get slower as you get to greater detail. I must finish the faces before I can finish the hair. Can’t wait to start on the dog!

These iPhone photos of the work accomplished do not give as clear a picture of the detail you will see in the finished product. The colors also are not accurate in the photos. It looks so much better when you are looking at the canvas. I may start using my Cannon camera.

Almost no white canvas left! I worked more on the background detail and the clothing in the forground. I also got started on the dog and dad is almost finished! Lots of detail to go on background and forground.

Nice bit of work this weekend! I’ve got lot’s of detail on the kid’s clothing to do. Mom and dad are about finished. Still work to do on the background and there’s still a lot of work on Skynard. I’m still having fun!

It’s Skynard! I worked a little all around the canvas and decided to finish Skynard. I thought I would just show him off today. He is a portrait by himself. It’s hard to see the detail from this photo, but I spent about about 8 hours on him this weekend. There are thousands of little hairs made one stroke at a time! I love it!

Much more detail showing up!  I have finished the clothing on all but the daughter. You will have to zoom in to see the detail on the clothing.  The difficult part about painting is what I enjoy; like mixing the colors of paint to come up with a color that’s close to right.  Every painting and every part of every painting has its challenges. Then there is choosing the right brushes; larger brushes today down the base colors and smaller for the detail and brushes that give the illusion of texture. And again, the photo leaves a lot unclear.

I have more detail to do on the faces, hair and background, but I do see the end approaching!

No hurry, no pressure,  just fun!

 Busy weekend but got a lot done. The clothes are done; hair, just a few more highlights, and several more hours on the background.  Then I will go over every square inch to see what needs a few more touches or corrections.

I will be on a 4 day vacation this coming Easter weekend. Gonna visit my son and his family. (4 Grandkids!)   Don’t guess they want me to bring my paints along so I am hoping to finish the following weekend… Which means the first week in May it should be done and I will post the last photo!   Wait till you see it in person!


Well, except for my signature.  I finished it this weekend. I will study it closely and may add a few highlights and corrections.  Now comes the drying time. It will have to dry a few weeks before it can be framed. I hope to present it to the family soon.

I am very pleased. It has been a big project taking a lot of time but it was a joy to do. I can’t wait for them to see it up close.

What’s next?  It’s bigger than this!

Remember to click on the pic to enlarge!

More to come!



  1. I am so pleased with the impressive amount of work you have completed! What a great thing to be able to see our painting in progress! Look forward to checking on it again soon! Love the dog!

  2. Looking good! I love t check the website and see what you have done. What a great thing to be able to see this in progress. Look forward to seeing more! Thanks Kathy

  3. Looks great! I look at this all the time, and I get so excited to see the new additions! What a talent you have- I’m so glad we get to be apart of it. THanks, Kathy

  4. Another great weekend you had! I am having a great time watching this process! It looks great- you are amazing! Thanks, Kathy

  5. Another fun Monday looking at the wonderful progress you have made in another weekend! It looks great- Kathy

  6. We were out of town- couldn’t wait to get home and see the progress. It looks great, cant wait to see it in person. I Love Skynard- He is going to be great. Thanks Mike- Kathy

  7. It looks great! Amazing that each time I look I think there can’t be that much more- but each picture you post looks that much more amazing! I am really enjoying looking at it each week. Thanks!

  8. SKYNARD! We love him!!! You are amazing! The detail in his fur is awesome! Thanks again! Kathy

  9. I enjoy looking at this every week! Looking forward to the end, as well. Thanks! Kathy

  10. Great! I can not wait to see it in person! I will be looking for the next posting 🙂

  11. I can’t wait to see it! I have out of town guests here at the end of the month for a wedding. I would love to show it off, it it’s ready. I looks awesome on the computer- looking forward to seeing it in person. What a treasure to have such a wonderful piece in our home! Thanks, Kathy

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