Afghan Girl on National Geographic Cover

Hi There!

Those who are following me know that I paint with my friend Uma a few times a month.  We pick something we would both like to paint, then tackle it together.  We recently finished a very large painting "Sunset on the Cinque Terre".  We worked on that for 6 months (YIKES!).  Uma has made me promise to tell her she is crazy if she picks a project like that again!

We have just embarked on a much smaller adventure - this time a portrait.  Most people would probably recognize this particular photo.  It was on the cover of National Geographic Magazine June, 1985.

Cover of the National Geographic Magazine, June 1985. The covers of this magazine are characterized by its large main picture and yellow edges.

(Photo of cover is from Wikipedia)

Photo was taken by Steve McCurry and to date has become the most famous cover photo for the magazine.  The intensity in the girl's green eyes draws you right into the photo.  Capturing that will be a must in the painting.

We are painting on 12 x 16 canvas with heat set oil paint.  I chose to use the oil paint so we could blend the colors without worrying about the paint drying.  Acrylic is generally my medium of choice because of its fast drying time, but I have not tried it on a portrait, and didn't want to for this one. The paint never dries until it is set with heat.  A carefully used heat gun is necessary, as a hair dryer does not get hot enough.

Starting in the background, we applied varying shades of a blue/turquoise.  The light source is coming from the right.  Next, we put in her headdress with varying shades of red-orange, then her hair with browns and black.  Her cloak has holes in it, with turquoise fabric showing through.  While we had the background color handy, we put in the fabric that could be seen through the holes.

We got this amount done after working for about 3 hours.  This was great, compared to the very slow progress of the Cinque Terre painting.

Stay tuned for the next episode of our portrait project.  You can now find me on Instagram @betsergirl   as well as Facebook.  

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