A Tale of 3 Charlys — from my Family Portraits Collection


‘3 Charlys’ — Family Portraits by Valerie Rawlings

As you all know, my favorite family portraits are of my darling granddaughter Charly. About a month ago I decided to paint three unusual poses from my vast collection of Charly’s photos. For the background I wanted to use some of the wonderful patterned card stock (bought in a sale frenzy at Michaels, to use for collages — which it turns out really isn’t my thing. Back to the oil painting!) Anyway I blocked in all three paintings pretty quickly, since the card stock had the background already built in.

Within a couple of sittings I had them looking pretty good. But each time I went into my studio and looked at them, I found ghastly problems. Like OMG her nose is crooked, or her hair is so fluffed up it’s like she is ready for a beauty pageant, or her mouth is not nearly wide enough. So I touched up and tuned up; and every time I left them I thought they were about done.

But still, every time I came back to them, I saw things I couldn’t leave alone. [Eeek! That shadow on her cheek is so dark!] So I’ve had this musical chairs thing going with this little family of portraits moving from easel to easel to piano (one of my display areas) and back again FOR WEEKS. And I am not complaining — this is the sweetest “work” I could be doing. I just don’t want anyone to look at Charly’s portrait and say “That doesn’t look like her at all.”

For me, painting is very much a game of “What’s Wrong with this Picture?”; and this is especially true for family portraits. I just keep nudging the image toward a recognizable subject in the finished painting. Eventually, I have to call it quits and move on. Interestingly, family portraits aren’t any easier than other types of paintings. Since I’m working from photos, I’m just trying to make it look like the picture (perhaps with an impressionistic theme or other artistic interpretation); so my familiarity with the family member’s appearance doesn’t really help.

Oh, and as long as I am confessing my obsessions, there are two more Charly portraits I’ve been working on! I’ll post these to my blog and the Family Portraits section of my website; and then I REALLY am moving on to other subjects. My home is getting dangerously close to looking like a shrine to You Know Who!!!

Oh and by the way, please mark your calendars for the first ever Valerie Rawlings art exhibit from September 1st through 27th at the Lake Travis Community Library in Lakeway! Reception with refreshments on Sunday Sept 8th, from 2-3:30pm.

Come on out and see it!  There’ll be a lot more than just Charly pictures — I promise!

About Valerie Rawlings

Austin, Texas oil painter focusing on portraits, landscapes and still life paintings
This entry was posted in Family Portraits, Paintings of Women, Portrait. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Tale of 3 Charlys — from my Family Portraits Collection

  1. Denise Cottrill says:

    I love your portraits of Charly, Val! We just had our first grand baby, Ellie, and if I could paint I’d do the same thing! Precious!!

    • Denise I didn’t really get my painting going until Charly was almost 2 years old. You have just enough time to turn into a painter before Ellie gets REALLY photogenic! You would love it!

  2. Jan Yeonopolus says:

    The trinity – Charly, Charly & Charly. You’ve captured her personality so perfectly on canvas. Charly is one lucky girl to have an artist for a grandmother!