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A Free Painting Demo? Yes, Please

The Birthday Gift by Jean Hildebrant

The Birthday Gift (oil on canvas, 18×24)  by Jean Hildebrant

As an art-lover, I’m pretty open-minded. I see the beauty in expressing oneself, and appreciate that just as much as I honor the quality of what comes from that expression. I hope that people know this about me, if nothing else. An integral part of creative expression is the process itself; yes, the journey.

A friend of mine proved this to me in the furthest degree when she had spent months working on an upcoming outdoor project that was to coincide with a downtown event. She gave everything of herself to bring her artistic vision to fruition: time, money, energy–all valuable resources. The night of the event was incredibly cold and rainy; she wasn’t able to share her work. I was afraid that this anti-climax would destroy her enthusiasm, but we had lunch recently and when I asked her about it, she surprised me by saying that she wasn’t upset about not sharing her artistic vision that night, because just going through the process was enough to satisfy her. Wow–what a woman. I should’ve known this to be the case, but hearing this gave me a little peace.

This is what we live for, I believe. And having resources to support our efforts is vital. I recently told you about Maggie Price’s newest book, Creative” freedom: art ideas projects and exercises to overcome your creativity block>, and the response was so positive that I’d like to share an excerpt from one of the contributing writers, so you don’t have to just take it from me.

For Jean’s free demonstration of The Birthday Gift, scroll down, and get all 52 projects and exercises when you order Creative” freedom> today. I hope that whatever the outcome of your projects, you enjoy the process and the beauty that comes along with expressing yourself.


Set Your Subject in Another Era by Jean Hildebrant

When I’m struggling to overcome a creative block, I return to painting the subject that I’m most passionate about–people. I’m always drawn to paintings of portraits and figures. Being able to bring the soul of the subject to life on canvas is a great joy to me.

If I find myself feeling uninspired, a live model may be what it takes to put me in a more creative mood. But sometimes I think the way people dress today can be a problem. I find the fashions of bygone eras more graceful and romantic. For many years, I’ve kept my eye open for clothing, hats, etc., at estate sales or antique stores, where they are inexpensive. Having complete creative control over selecting a model, costume, pose, props, settings and lighting is very inspiring.

When I see my subjects in the costumes and set-up that I’ve chosen, I become excited at the possibilities. Any creative block I might be facing is gone, and I’m ready to paint.

Jean Hildebrant reference photo

reference photo

This photo (above) was taken late in the afternoon. The sun had slipped behind the hills, so the light was subtle. I’ve dressed my daughter and her son in costumes that appear to be from the very early 1900s and took them to a local park for a photograph session. The “vintage” pull toy was made by my husband and was a great addition to the set-up.

Sketch the Subject
1. Sketch the Subject

Sketch the figures on an 18×24 canvas with a pastel pencil. Don’t worry about drawing too much detail as it will be covered as soon as you start painting. Aim for accuracy in the composition, keeping the figures from being too centered. Divide the canvas into approximately two-thirds sky and one-third grass.

Paint the sky
2. Lay In the Darks, Paint the Sky and Begin the Skin Tones

Lay in the darkest darks–the hat ribbon–with nos. 2 and 4 filberts using Alizarin Crimson, Viridian and Ultramarine Blue Deep. For the darks of the hair, add Transparent Oxide Red and Raw Sienna to the ribbon mixture. Keep the paint thin–you’ll work toward thicker paint as you progress.

Put down a color note for the lightest light–the baby’s shirt next to his hand–with a mix of white with a touch of Permanent Red Medium and Cadmium Yellow.

Paint the sky with a variety of blues and violets with touches of Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Orange here and there.

For the skin tones, mix orange and Cadmium Yellow and Yellow Ochre with white and cool it with a bit of Cobalt Blue. Warm and cool these base skin tones as needed with Alizarin Crimson and Viridian. Start with the average tone first, working toward changes in value and temperature as the painting progresses.

Block in the painting
3. Finish Blocking In the Faces and Begin the Hair and Clothing

Finish painting the skin tones and mix Cadmium Orange, Transparent Oxide Red and a touch of Cobalt Blue for the darks of baby’s hair. Mix a gray for the blouse behind the baby’s head. Lay in the top of the hat with a no. 6 filbert and a mixture of Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Yellow Light. Darken and cool the underside of the hat. For the blues in the baby’s shorts, mix Cobalt Blue, white and a bit of Cadmium Yellow Light; use that mix for the mother’s skirt but move it toward a blue-violet. Begin the grasses with Viridian and Cadmium Yellow Pale.

Refine the painting background
4. Refine the Faces and Begin the Foreground

Mix a darker tone for the shadows on the faces, adding more Alizarin Crimson and Transparent Oxide Red with blue to cool and Viridian to gray it. Use warm darks, leaning heavily to Transparent Oxide Red and Alizarin Crimson. For these smaller areas of darks around the features, use a no. 2 filbert bristle brush.

On the mother’s blouse, use a grayed-down purple tone made of white, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre and a no. 4 filbert.

For warmer greens in the foreground and midground, mix Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Medium and touches of reds and Yellow Ochre.

The Birthday Gift by Jean Hildebrant

The Birthday Gift by Jean Hildebrant

5. Final Details
Add dark accents where needed, such as in the sky. Check for any drawing corrections, and look for edges that need to be softened or sharpened. Keeping strong contrast, adding a sharp edge or two and using clean color and more detail help to ensure the baby’s face will stay the center of the viewer’s focus. Check your values, edges and temperature changes, and you’re done.

Click here to order your copy of Maggie Price’s Creative” freedom: art ideas projects and exercises to overcome your creativity block>.

Jean Hildebrant

Born and raised in a small town in Oregon, Jean Hildebrant found herself drawn to the beauty of art at the early age of 3. As her art education progressed and her style developed, she discovered that she especially enjoyed working in oil and pastel mediums. Jean specializes in portraits and figurative works and paints realism with the purpose of leaving an indelible impression. She has exhibited and won numerous awards in local and national shows, including a first place in the portrait/figure category of Pastel Journal’s Pastel 100 competition and the Pastel Society of America’s National Annual Exhibition. She is a charter member of the Pastel Society of Oregon and a member of the Arizona Artists Guild, the Arizona Pastel Artists Association and the Fellowship of Christians in Portraiture. Her work is in private, public and corporate collections. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

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