Chapter 24 - 'Belle' Perfume - Painting Lili Reinhart - Uni 3rd Year 2017/18
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Lili Reinhart - 45 hours, 76x56cm acrylic painting on 425gsm Bockington Watercolour Paper
Overall, even now years later, I am still really happy with how this painting came out. Some elements of my style have progressed since this painting, like if I were to revisit this piece for example, the way that I paint hair has changed so I would probably rework that, but otherwise I think the way that I captured Lili has worked really well. I would say that the best parts of this painting is the way that I painted Lili's lips and makeup, there is so much detail there and tones look very nicely blended together, infact, some friends when seeing this piece joked and said I should be doing a makeup ad campaign and not perfume because of the way her makeup has been painted here. I also love the finish of the black dress, the way I managed to capture the feel of the material, finish it off with splats and dribbles to abstract the realism, then just that final dramatic zigzag at the bottom of the dress to still help give Lili's form but finish the piece in an artistic way.
I think this piece will always be one that I will hold close to my heart as a milestone painting because it has jumped up in standards of how I capture a likeness, the skintones are radiant and glowing, and is also the first time I started to create my won overall style. Yes the work was inspired by Ben Jeffery's mark making to give her a background, but all artists find inspiration and make it their own, which is what I have done by working with different materials to him and a different process. I also can't help but feel like I really captured a strong likeness of Lili Reinhart here, I may think that because I am a fan of her work in Riverdale, but it is a standout piece to me because I see this piece undeniably as Lili.
In a series of images below, I am going to show some developmental shots below were I can discuss in more detail the process of painting Lili.
This photo shows how I managed to create Lili's background, but also keep the portrait of her clean and away from pink mark making. What I learned from Lisa Lachri when I was experimenting with airbrushing is that if you cut out a stencil shape of your portrait using baking paper, then seal it to your artwork with masking fluid, you can paint whatever you need to for the background and keep what is underneath safe. Applying the masking fluid with a brush allowed me to get a neatness and fine accuracy that just sticking the baking paper stencil over the top would not have been able to do. Because a paint brush is obviously made with hairs, when applying marking fluid on areas like Lili's hair style, the nature of the paint brush flicking out and creating whisps lends itself to creating a realistic hairstyle as hair does not sit in block like cartoons, hair strays away. Once the background is dried and I was happy with it, I could then remove the masking fluid and baking paper stencil, which is what you can see happening in the photo above, it is the baking paper that is being torn, not the artwork below.
Working in a systematic way, I worked my way around the painting of Lili's face, as you can see in the illustration of arrows over the top of her face in the image above. This is just my process of working that works for me, I don't like having a base that covers the whole thing, working section by section is my more satisfying to me as you can easily see what there is left to work with because the rest of the painting has no paint on it. A new trick I put into action on this piece however is using coloured pencils to create fine details. Details like the eyebrows, eyelashes and shade under Lili's nose were made using coloured pencils. Creating a brown base for the eyebrows with paint, then a darker shade of brown colour pencil over the top helped to give the sharpness of hairs through the use of the pencils, but the brown base helped thicken the brows up and like she perhaps used makeup to darken her brows too.
At this point, the body is done, I just needed to consider how I would blend the solid acrylic painting of Lili's portrait with the pink mark making background in a way that seems intentional and seemless.
Next up was painting the dress. I painted the dress next rather than the hair because some of the hair was going to poke over the top of the dress, so it makes more sense to work in the layers that are realistic - face, body, then dress as that is on top of the body, the hair last because that goes on top of both the body and dress. I also wanted to paint the dress next because it gave me a chance top see how I would blend the background with Lili, then while I would be painting the hair and looking at it over a few days, if I wanted to make anty changes to the way that the dress was faded with the background, I still had time to change it. I enjoyed painting the dress as it was made from a material that acted alot like silk, so the colours and highlights were very strong as well as form fitting. The way that the dress was finished with splats , dribbles and mark making is very modern and gives a contemporary feel, which is not only good for my perfume brand, but also good for me as an artist as it would allow my art style if I were to exhibit in a gallery to be modern and stylish.
Working curl by curl I started painting Lili's hair. I tried to take two pictures that help illustrate how I painted each section of the hair. I started with a dark brown base for the section, although Lili's hair is blond, I had a dark base as it allowed the darker tones to be applied first. It is easier to go from dark to light, rather than the other way around. Then just layering up the colours after the brown base had dried, I achieved the blond hairstyle.
Then voila, the finished artwork!