I  am currently working on a large portrait of a family of 4 on canvas size 24 x 36"      Unfortunately, I have never met the subjects....they are friends of my Uncle and he wanted me to paint a portrait of them to be a Christmas gift this year.    The photo I have, I enlarged to an 8 x 10. Although it is clear, it is still hard for me to make them come "alive" per say.  They are siting on a large rock next to a beach with huge boulders and rocks behind them.    My problem is that the background seems to take away from their faces.  I have toned it down considerably with grays, but it still needs to be faded.  I want to try scumbling.  White paint will have to be the color to use.  I use Titanium White.   Is this OK?  or should I use another type of white?    Any suggestions from anyone.

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Comment by George on July 31, 2012 at 16:29

As Melanie said I would soften the edges by using a mix of the first color plus a little black and zinc white. It is similar to the process of painting clouds. Use the brush like when you paint fog over the mountains and sky

Comment by Melanie Harbin on June 3, 2012 at 13:18

Hi Susan.  Titanium white is very opaque and I personally do not believe it would be good to scumble with it.  Zinc white is the least opaque white that I know of but I would not recommend  that either.  I would first make sure that you are blurring all your edges in the background enough and that your background values of light and dark are close so as not to draw you in to that area so much.  If all that is good then I would continue graying down the colors until you achieve the results you are looking for.  Good luck to you for I am a portrait artist as well and I feel your pain. 

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