Serious costumes: historical re-enactments and Renaissance Faires are like a time machine for the portrait artist.

Every since I took Art History courses back in college, Renaissance and Old Master portraits have held a special fascination for me. Lately I’ve been indulging that interest by painting digital portraits that have the look and feel of the Quattrocento. As it turns out, there are many others who also have a love of history–so much so, in fact, that they participate in re-enactments of historical battles. Others work during the summer months attired in Renaissance garb, spouting “Prithee” and “Huzzahs” all day long. Renaissance Faires are found all over the country, and if you’ve never attended one, I highly recommend it. They’re a lot of fun. Photographs of people dressed in historical costumes are nearly irresistible to me, as a portrait subject. Luckily for me, there are some talented photographers who’ve posted great images online for all to see, and use as reference. I am grateful to these generous individuals. The works that follow could not have been created without them.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to use photographs as just the starting point for my historical portraits. As you’ll see, in the last example, the painting and the photo look nothing like each other. To me, this is a sign that I’m growing as an artist. I’m relying less and less on Painter’s clone tool. It’s kind of like learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Scary, but fun. You can see much larger versions of these, and other paintings, at my online gallery.

Enjoy!

Photograph by Chip Talbert, at www.chiptalbert.com. This young lady was a cast member at a Tennessee Renaissance Faire. At this size, the painting looks identical to the photo. At full size, it looks much more like an oil painting of the period. Click on the image to see it larger at my online gallery.
Photograph by Chip Talbert, at www.chiptalbert.com. This young lady was a cast member at a Tennessee Renaissance Faire. At this size, the painting looks identical to the photo. At full size, it looks much more like an oil painting of the period.
Photo, left, by http://odessa11stock.deviantart.com/, a generous Deviant Art.com stock artist. Obviously this is based on Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer.
Photo, left, by http://odessa11stock.deviantart.com/, a generous Deviant Art.com stock artist. Obviously this is based on Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer.
A Texas Ren Faire cast member. Photograph by Photography on the Run. My goal here was to really play up the reflected light, as well as to make the image painterly. Still relying completely on the clone tool here, plus Topaz filters.
A Texas Ren Faire cast member. Photograph by Photography on the Run. My goal here was to really play up the reflected light, as well as to make the image painterly. Still relying completely on the clone tool here, plus Topaz filters.
Another Photography on the Run image. I was happy with the new lighting and textures in this painting.
Another Photography on the Run image. I was happy with the new lighting and textures in this painting.
This was done right after the Moorish Gentleman. Photo by Photography on the Run. The Topaz Adjust filter really brought out this gentleman's character.
This was done right after the Moorish Gentleman. Photo by Photography on the Run. The Topaz Adjust filter really brought out this gentleman’s character.
I'm particularly pleased with how different the painting is from the photo. Still using the clone tool, but not as much. Choosing my own colors, and using Overlay layers for the patterning. Photo by http://alp-stock.deviantart.com.
I’m particularly pleased with how different the painting is from the photo. Still using the clone tool, but not as much. Choosing my own colors, and using Overlay layers for the patterning. Photo by http://alp-stock.deviantart.com.
This gentleman, and the lady above, were dressed for a Viking encampment in York, England. Photo by http://alp-stock.deviantart.com.
This gentleman, and the lady above, were dressed for a Viking encampment in York, England. Photo by http://alp-stock.deviantart.com.
This was the first time I made up most of the image. His tunic comes from my imagination. I didn't even know I had one! Photo by Photography on the Run.
This was the first time I made up most of the image. His tunic comes from my imagination. I didn’t even know I had one! Photo by Photography on the Run.