This is Lei, friend of my friend Cecile J. who heard of this project and found a person whom she knew could inspire a challenging portrait.
Lei has been so kind as to send me photographs of her traditional wedding in Davao City. Her late maternal grandfather was a pure-blooded Bagobo-Klata; a Bagani — respected elder of the tribe. His wish was for any of his daughters to be wed in the traditional setting, but Lei’s mother and her siblings were all wed in church. To grant her late grandfather’s (and also her own mother’s) wish, plus to honor her roots, Lei and her husband decided to hold a traditional wedding on their first anniversary last December 2019.
She sent many photographs with details of the dress and headdress. One photo, I think captured the best smile.
The drawing was done on 18 March and the painting was finished on 4 April 2021.
|This is the reference, cropped from a much larger photograph so resolution is very low. Details of the dress and headdress are available from other photographs.||The line drawing establishes the main shapes. The portrait is divided horizontally into thirds: face, chest, and lower part of the sleeves. I send Lei a photo to tell her that I’m starting the portrait.||The outlines are redrawn using raw umber. There is no attempt at likeness. The goal is to make sure the shapes are intact and ready for the next phase.|
|Color blocking covers the entire canvas with base colors + titanium white. The face is yellow ocher, cadmium red deep hue, and ultramarine blue to start with. Dioxazine purple is the base color for the dress but I also mix blue + red + white to make different shades.||The face is made more human using white, yellow ocher, and burnt umber on top of the base colors. This is the first serious attempt at likeness.||I decide that the background is dark, not pale, so on comes a layer of burnt umber that picks up lavender from the previous step. The darker shade of brown is also used to define the lines of the face. I send this update to Lei.|
|Another layer of burnt umber and the background is done. The lavender base color still shines through. The headdress takes shape with the use of lamp black, which is the darkest shade in the painting. After resting the purple dress for several days, it is now ready for some details. Arms appear.||The face gets some highlights. The shadows on the dress are moving as I decide where to stay with purple and where to use black. I am experimenting with the lines of the dress. At this stage, I post on Facebook. Posting at step 3 (alien life-form stage) would have been a disaster.||This stage is focused on more detail work on the dress. After drying the brown background for a few days, I could paint over it with yellow ocher and black to create the fan shapes on the headdress. The shadows on the dress are almost done. The face is not flat anymore and the likeness is more apparent.|