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On the Easel

Mrs. Laurie L. Gonzalez


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The Dancer


 If I can, I try to paint as much from life as possible.  If nothing else, I try to paint the last stages of the painting from life.  Unfortunately, Laurie wasn't able to sit for me, so I had to use the reference photos to paint the portrait.  I actually painted from several photos. I feel that this provides me with much more information and a more well-rounded portrait.  Notice that Laurie's hair style is different in several of the photos (they were taken during two different photo sessions). 



I usually tone my canvases.  That is, most of the time I tint my canvases with paint to a light brown color.  But in this case, I started with a white canvas.  I quickly drew a sketch in very dilute paint.  I dilute my paint so much that the lines are barely visible.  Then as I'm more sure of their placement I restate the lines in darker paint. 



I started blocking in the darks, and then followed with the mid-tones then the lights.  I typically start blocking in the face and then move out.



Here most of the body and face are roughly blocked in.



I then started placing lights and blocking in the background. Below is the initial block-in.  This represents only about 5 to 10 hours of the 60 to 80 hours that will be spent painting the portrait.



At this point, I essentially start all over. I correct the drawing, colors and tones.  Small changes make huge differences.  It always amazes me how one stroke can fix a problem or create one that takes numerous ones to correct.


Here are three photos detailing the face during the progression of the painting


In the first one you can see the initial sketch in line with little or no shading.  Most of the lines are single strokes.


Here, you can see the initial block-in of color.  Notice that there is not a lot of value change.  The purpose is to get color on the canvas to prepare it for the work to follow.  You may also notice Laurie's hair isn't as full as in the finished painting.  That's because when I'm actually painting her hair, the background is  painted "cutting in" to her hair and then while still wet, her hair is painted over the wet background allowing her hair to have the illusion of being in front of the background.




Finally, the detail from the finished painting.  Between the block-in and the final touches, the darks, midtones, and lights have all been restated. 




And the finished work



Mrs. Laurie Lee Gonzalez

Oil on Linen






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  2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 Marc J. Surrency.  Artist scans, images, and web design are protected by copyright. Physical or electronic reproduction in whole or part is unlawful without written permission of the artist.