Here’s my sixth installment of my wedding portrait in progress series. I’m getting close to completing the portrait now and things are really starting to come together.

In this update I reveal how I approached the challenging complexity of the bride’s tiara. I also discuss some improvements made to the painting of the bride’s mouth and a bold change to the background.

Painting the Complex Detail of the Tiara

When I came to make the final pass of detail across the bride’s wedding tiara I found it a challenge at first. I couldn’t seem to pick out the different diamantes without the piece of jewellery looking a mess overall.

The original blocking in of the tiara was causing the issue as it simply wasn’t accurate enough. You can see the early stages of the tiara in part 4 of this series.

Achieving Perspective

Taking the piece back to basics, I worked from the original tiara that I had borrowed from the bride and reestablished the overall shape of the costume jewellery. It was crucial to ensure that the perspective of the tiara was accurate as it curved around the head and away from the viewer.

Image 1 shows how I defined the leaf and flower shapes that made up the main flowing structure of the tiara before picking out the lighter gem type decorations.

Underpainting of a wedding tiara

Image 1 : Defining the accurate shape of the tiara

Image 2 shows how I was then able to work out the placement of each individual diamante in a manner that meant the tiara worked better as a whole.

Painting of a bride wearing a tiara

Image 2 : Overall improvement of the tiara

I was careful to not overwork this area of detail as I didn’t want it to detract too much from the bride’s face and when viewed in context of the entire composition (see image 4) I think it works well.

Blending the Lips

In the fourth installment of this blog series you can see some close up shots of the bride’s face at an earlier stage. As you can see, the facial feature that needed most revision was the mouth.

Painting in the ‘smile lines’ and corners of the mouth more carefully helped improve the mouth overall but there was still work to be done.

The shape of the mouth was too harsh and this was down to the lips (especially the bottom one) being overly defined and separate from the rest of the skin.

Image 3 shows how I started to resolve this by blending the lips far more softly into the flesh tones of the cheeks and chin, loosing the harsh edges that were throwing the overall form of the mouth.

Close up detail of an oil painting of a mouth

Image 3 : Blending the lips

Bye Bye Background!

As revealed in parts 2 and 3 of this blog series, the background of this composition has caused me one or two headaches!

My original plan for the piece was to set the happy couple against a warm landscape with the Pennines on the horizon. I mapped out how I wanted to balance the composition by including some oak trees behind the bride and I experimented with different clouds in a blue summer sky.

After all of the painting and repainting I finally decided… it simply wasn’t working.

The landscape background was making the painting too busy. As a double portrait with numerous pockets of detail documenting the important parts of the wedding attire, there was already plenty going on in the piece.

A Bold Change

After much consideration stood back from the easel, I decided it was time for a bold change. Image 4 shows the chosen solution, a simplified green background with darker corners to provide a subtle sense of atmosphere.

I painted the background in a loose manner with a large flat brush to help give a subtle textural contrast against the meticulous finish of the bride and groom.

Overall I think the background makes the piece far easier on the eye and ensures that the happy couple remain the focus of the portrait.

Before the grand reveal of the final painting I’ll try and squeeze in at least one more update where I’ll discuss the finishing touches and possibly the oiling out and retouch varnishing stages.

Double wedding portrait painting

Image 4 : The first layer of the new background

Other Progress Updates:

Part 1 – Initial blocking in and under-painting
Part 2 – Building up of oil paint layers and consideration of background
Part 3 – Reworking the sky and blending clouds
Part 4 – Improving the skin tones of the bride and groom
Part 5 – Refining the detail of the bouquet and wedding dress
Part 7 – Finishing touches and oiling out

You can now view the completed wedding portrait in my portfolio and find out more about it here.