Tag Archives: art course

Assignment 3 – Self Portrait – Painting

3 - Peaky Blinder

Study in Oil Pastels

First Attempt

As I said in previous post, Assignment 3 – Research, I would attempt to reproduce a similar style to that of Nikos Gyftakis, the study I produced actually reminded me of the works of Genn Brown. I wasn’t sure of the techniques, either artist used to create their paintings. I thought about a couple of techniques but I wasn’t certain if they would, one was adding the paint in different hues to get the swirling effect and to keep going at it until I was satisfied, the other was to add different hues to the same wide brush adding the different colours at the same time to create the swirling effect, I chose the first technique. I now regret not researching the techniques that they used.

I worked from both the study and a photo, (reversed) that I took of myself at the time, I first drew the outline in paint and then blocked in the base colours as a reference, I then began to work on the face. I had bought a heavy gel medium, that I mixed in with the paint to which I added, retarder and flow aid to the water the problem was though the paint was still drying to quick so I couldn’t really work it on the canvas as much as I wanted to.

After an hour the painting wasn’t going as well as I expected and I sat staring at it for a about another hour picking faults with not only the technique I had decided to use but with everything about it, the pose was weak and there was really no kind of feeling to it. I wasn’t happy with the way things were going and I remembered what my replacement tutor at the end of my drawing course said, ‘If you’re nat happy with the drawing, change it!’. And so I did.

2nd Attempt – A new pose a different technique

I searched for videos on YouTube looking for clips of Francoise Neilly at work. I couldn’t find anything only videos by an Artist called Voka. Both artists had very similar finished pieces but Voka used brushes rather than knives and so to see the way he worked was very helpful. The thing with both artists though was that their paintings weren’t lifelike enough for me and the eyes and lips on Francoise Neilly’s painting’s were just too perfect.

The old painting was too straight and too small so this time I wanted my head to be bigger so I could use a wide flat brush as well as a palette knife. I sat in front of the mirror in the bathroom with my camera on a tripod in the sink taking photos while checking to see if I could actually keep my head in the angle of the best photos as painting from life was better for this technique in the earlier stages.

Too start with I needed to paint over the existing portrait so with thick mixes of black, blue and white mixed with a heavy gel I roughly painted in my hat, face and shoulders using both a knife as well as a number 22 flat brush loaded with paint. The knife was more difficult to use than I imagined so eventually I developed my own technique of picking the paint up on the underside of the knife and splatting the paint on the canvas.

7 - Reworking and a New Pose

Correcting the Pose

This stage took about 25 minutes and when I was satisfied that it was ‘something like’ I covered the rest of the previous portrait with yellow, just u til I could work out what kind of a background I would be doing for this portrait.

 

The following stages were basically a case of thickening the paint up as well as experimenting with the juxtaposing of colours, both primary and secondary as well as seeing how they looked along side skin tones.

At this stage I stopped working from life and flipped a photo of a very similar pose that I could relate to so I didn’t stray too far from the source. I wasn’t satisfied with the colours I wanted to go a lot darker. The colours in the photos above reminded me of early 90s Shell-suit bottoms. I needed to go a lot darker and I found a great painting to use for a colour reference.

Francoise neilly Untitled

Study in Oil Pastels

11 - Going Darker

70 % Complete

These two portraits are very different Neilly’s is very smooth while mine was very rough especially at this stage but what would help me is the colours she used under the peak of the hat.

 

 

 

 

Day two and I was still messing around with colours I purchased an opaque red and gold but I still had to layer them on with a palette knife so that the paint below didn’t show through. I added the gold to the hat and face and on the right hand side of the face I painted a thin layer of red over the gold, hoping that this would create the illusion that that side of my face and hat was catching the light from somewhere.

I painted the background in a dull medium grey which catches the light at certain angles so it does look like the light is shining in from the sides.

Conclusion

I am quite happy with the finished piece and have received some good feedback from workmates and friends. I am happy with the piece and that I was dared to try something different. The result was as I expected, a strong but unfinished piece and I’m sure that’s what the viewer would see.

Use of Colour

To me the colours do not take over the piece, the features are still strong and clear and the colours do their job accentuating the light, shade and features of the face.

Technique

I am quite happy with the technique that I used, the research helped and introduced me some really good techniques. I would really like to practice techniques that the other artists in my research used but I’m sure they will be time consuming and so I will have to set aside some time for that.

Conveying Character

There is character here and it’s pretty much the character I wanted to convey, a look of arrogance with the hat tilted to one side.

Mood and Atmosphere

I’m not sure what mood or atmosphere I have depicted here that will be left for the viewer to make up their own mind.

Choice of Background

I think I chose the background wisely with the colours that I used in the portrait, their may have been other options such as using the same technique with darker colours on the background and maybe depicting light coming in from the sides but I could have messed up the feel of the painting.

 

12 - Finished Piece

Finished Piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 3 – A Self Portrait – Research

For this assignment I chose to paint a self portrait, living alone that seemed to be the best bet. The painting was going to be in acrylics on a canvas panel, I wasn’t going to start using oils this far into the course especially on an assignment piece.

To begin with I began some self portrait studies in the medium I had started to like so much, water soluble oil pastels, these can be used wet or dry so I could do some experimenting with them here.

1 - A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

1 – A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

With the first study I wanted to continue playing around with line like I had in Assignment 2. I began by drawing in the outlines in pencil then drawing over strong outlines with a Pentel brush pen before adding detail and tone in water soluble oil pastels, wet for the face and dry for the clothes. I chose my background wisely with light shining in from a window (at school) and a bright orange picture board. I liked the way the light reflected off my head and used this in the study by leaving that part of my head oil pastel free with the line determining the outline of my head.

Up until now apart from the Conveying Character exercise I hadn’t really included any background in a portrait painting. Would I paint one in the final piece? I’m not sure where this would take me but hopefully the following research would help me to determine that. From here I went on to look at self portraits where the artists used line.

Self Portrait with Line

van Gogh - Self Portrait 1989 - Detail

van Gogh – Self Portrait 1989 – Detail

My search for self-portraits with line took me in a different direction, while I was actually looking for famous self-portraits or portraits that had some kind of outline I came across artists who had created whole paintings using line, such as Vincent van Gogh.

In Self-Portrait 1989 (left) van Gogh uses thick brushstrokes to create a serious weathered look to his face and to depict hair and facial hair. The line he uses for the background is equally important, it turns a plain background into a significant part of this painting.

 

Nikos Gyftakis - Self-portrait 1 - oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis – Self-portrait 1 – oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis, a 33 year old Greek artist, produces some amazing portrait and self-portrait oil paintings where he uses swirls of line to depict depth and contortions in the faces. A number of his portraits include background which he has also used the thick swirls of paint to distort, leaving the viewer to make their own mind up to what is actually in the background.

Self Portrait 1 (right) includes no background whatsoever and the entire canvas is filled up with the face and hands. I love this piece but I have to question, is this technique feasible with acrylic in the short time I have for this assignment? and would it be easy enough to replicate on a smaller canvas?

 

3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

The next study was a result of this research. Using the same medium I drew myself this time using my hat as a prop using swirls of colour. I kmew I couldn’t replicate the technique perfectly with this medium but I could get some idea as to what the piece would look like in a painting medium such as acrylic or oils.

 

 

 

 

 

More Self-Portrait Studies

2 - Fauvism Inspired

3 – Fauvism Inspired

Moving away from the window I set myself down so that I had the brightly coloured picture board behind me. Inspired by the research into fauvism in the earlier portrait reserach  I used quite a limited palette of fairly bright colours and carrying on with more experimentation into using line in my portrait I used only vertical line to complete the picture apart from the check on the shirt.

I really liked the way this turned out, it reminded me of not just the fauve painters’ portraits but with the texture of the paper it kind of reminded me of the pointillist portraits as well.

 

 

Fauvist Portraits

André Derain - Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

André Derain – Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

Researching fauvism I came across the painters I had researched in the earlier research point such as Henri Matisse as well as some new ones. One fauvist portrait I really liked and in a style that would probably suit the study above was a  André Derain’s Portrait of Henri Matisse (1905). I later found out that Derain was the joint founder of Fauvism along side Matisse. His technique in this painting was very crude with what seemed to be a large flat brush and yet parts of the painting could have also been done with a knife. A keyword that I added into my search that took me to an artist that i had never heard of before, palette knife painter Francoise Neilly.

 

 

Untitled by Francoise Nielly

Untitled by Francoise Nielly

I love French palette knife painter Francoise Neilly’s  amazing use of colour and how she uses it not just to depict light and shade but all the features of the face. While searching for a video of her painting I came across another artist named Voka who paints similar portraits but mostly with brushes. The name he uses for his genre of art is spontaneous realism, I’m not sure whether Francoise Neilly would agree it seems like her paintings well thought out.

I looked on the web for amateur artists and students’ work painted in the style of Francoise Neilly and they hadn’t quite managed to pull it off, this made me want to take up the challenge. With the right pose, the right colours and props this style of painting would create a good atmosphere.

3 - Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

4 – Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

I had an idea for my next study but I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. My idea was to complete a self portrait with the dry medium (water soluble oil pastels) and then to work in verticle strips of the portrait with a watercolour brush to see what kind of an effect the water blended pastels had against the dry. A friend said that it looked like water running down a pain of glass but to me something about this painting reminded me of Gerhard Richter’s portraits with the strips of distortions across the face. Although I liked this effect I wasn’t sure how I was going to recreate it with acrylics and so I carried on with my search for portraits using different colour techniques.

 

 

 

Pointillist Portraits

There’s no doubt about it, pointillism is a very time consuming technique I have done a couple of paintings myself using a very crude technique and they took weeks to complete the simplest of paintings so attempting to use it here would slow me right down.

Georges Lemmen - Self-Portrait 1890

Georges Lemmen – Self-Portrait 1890

However, the oil pastel on the mixed media paper I was using left white spots and did remind me of pointillism and so there was no harm in taking a look at some of the self portraits and portraits by artists using this technique. One of the strongest of these Self Portraits, other than Vincent van Gogh’s 1887 Self-Portrait was this painting by Georges Lemmen where he seems to use layers and layers of dots that are close knit rather than spaced out like the works of Georges Seurat. This seemed to be a quicker, less time consuming method.

 

 

 

Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Chuck Close

My research into pointillist self portraits took me to a self portrait by an American Artist called Chuck Close, who actyally suffers from face blindness. When I enlarged the image I realised that it wasn’t a pointillist painting at all but what seemed to be a distorted photo-realist painting.

I was lucky to find a photo of Chuck Close at work, In the photo he was working from a photo of himself on a very large canvas and what he seemed to be doing was adding flesh tones into squares that were already painted with an array of colour and swirls to get this distorted effect that looks like he his behind a pane of patterned glass.

Conclusion

From the research above I concluded that I wouldn’t be painting a background in this self-portrait for assignment 3 but I would be relying on a strong technique to give the painting strength.

I really liked the paintings by Francoise Neilly and I wanted to have a go at something similar myself I just wasn’t sure if:

  • Using this technique or at least something similar would demonstrate the skills and knowledge that I have acquired through this part of the course.
  • Using a knife with acrylics would create the same affects as a knife with oil paint. Maybe I could use both a knife and a wide brush.

 

3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

I also loved the technique used by Nikos Gyftakis and the way my self-portrait inspired by his paintings turned out. Out of all the new artists I have found so far he was my favourite. The problem as with Francoise Neilly’s technique how possible would it be to create something similar with acrylics.

What I decided to do was to go into this assignment attempting to create a self portrait inspired by Gyftakis paintings butI would have a back up plan just in case it wasn’t working out. Neilly would be my back up plan.

 

 

 

Looking at Faces 5 – Creating Mood and Atmosphere

For this exercise I chose  to do a self portrait and with the heavy atmosphere that we have experienced in Bangkok over the last couple of years, especially with the recent bombings, I already had a mood for the painting in mind I just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there.

Guy Denning September Dossier

Guy Denning September Dossier

I recently became interested in the work of Guy Denning a British urban artist who creates very expressive portraits using thick brushstrokes as well as scratching the paint to convey emotion. He also employs a variety of other techniques such as stencils, painting over newspaper and dripping paint. Looking at his work did give me some ideas and I was hoping that it would have an influence in this exercise.

 

 

 

I wasn’t too worried about the light source at this point in the exercise, what I wanted to look at first was head position. I noticed that the head in certain positions played a big part in the mood of a painting, so I began by making a few sketches in my notebook with my head in positions that I could still see the mirror and the screen of the tablet which I was also using as a mirror via the camera.

1 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

1 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

My first study was in watercolour (right) followed by another with my head in the same position which I drew in oil pastels over the watercolour paint this gave it a detailed sketchy look reminiscent of urban art portraits. By blacking out the eyes I gave the sketches a rather dead look (bomb victim?..maybe) as well as making the sketch look like I wasn’t looking down at a mirror.

 

1 Notes

1 Notes

With my head in this position it was also quite easy to paint and see the sketch book. They weren’t a brilliant likeness of me as I was working very fast as to achieve expressive studies.

 

 

 

2 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

2 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

The dead look got me thinking about the colours I would use, I always associated corpses with pale bluish skin and so I did two more drawings in similar poses but using to different colour schemes; one in warm colours and the other in blues to see how the colour would effect the mood of the painting.

The cold colours made a massive difference and if it wasn’t for the strong blue of the eyes the portrait would have probably looked

2 Notes

2 Notes

corpse like. If that was the effect I wanted to create in the final painting. One thing that I was concerned about was the stubble wich made me look Aryan/Iranian. A clean shave and maybe even a shaved head would probably be better.

 

 

3 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

3 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

I then made two sketches side by side, one with the head cocked back and one with the head tilted forward. The sketch with the head cocked back seemed to be more expressive. The left looked like a ‘Fauve’ painting with the green under the eyes juxtaposed against the reddish complexion, this did look great but it wasn’t a look that I had in mind.

I decided to go with the head cocked back but I still wasn’t sure about the colours, I did have something in mind but I would have to do more experimenting.

4 Watersoluble Oil Pastels on Acrylic

4 Watersoluble Oil Pastels on Acrylic

From here I did some more experimenting looking for how I could exploit the pose and experimenting with techniques and mediums. The first drawing here was water soluble oil pastels over acrylic paint. I bought the water soluble oil pastels as a solution for drawing over prepared backgrounds so I could erase the lines if i went wrong, rather than having to paint the background again. I also thought that I could experiment scribbling over acrylics to create an expressive piece later.

I drew in the eyes here but tried to keep the whites to a minimum, I think I did create some kind of mood here but Im not sure if it was ‘rebellious’ or a look of despair, the latter is what I was really trying to achieve here.

 

5 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

5 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

The next sketch was done in oil pastels in my black pad. With this one I kept drawing line over line until it made a shape and then built up the tone the photo here doesn’t do it justice, it looks nothing like me but it does look like it could have been edited from a photo, if that makes sense.

The idea came from Guy Denning’s sketches where he has built faces up from line, a technique I would love to develop although here it turned out to be nothing like I had intended.

 

 

 

Gerhard Richter

Ella by Gerhard Richter

Ella by Gerhard Richter

In my last tutor report my tutor suggested checking out the unconventional portraits of Gerhard Richter. Too be honest his work didn’t really create a good impression on me but there were a couple that caught my eye, particularly ‘Ella’ and ‘Basel 2’. These two paintings made use of horizontal line to create a blurred effect, an effect that I had previously thought about trying to create myself but had never had the opportunity until now, this exercise was perfect for ‘giving it a go’.

 

6 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

6 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

With this technique in mind I started work on what would become my final study, yet once I had built up the shape of the face using line other ideas started to flood in. The face started to look like it was facing upwards rather than just cocked back and with the lighter lines across the face it started to look like a transparent cloth over the surface of the skin.

I continued with this look by bringing the lines down off the side off the face until it began to resemble a veil or thin lace material draped across the face. With the eyes and mouth being blacked out it almost looks like a veil draped over a dead man’s face. Although others have said that it looks like a face coming up through the material.

This final study was probably the best and if I had to call it something I would probably call it ‘Veil of Death’. I took a photo of this and uploaded it to Facebook and Twitter and it has had the best reception out of all my drawings and even an inquiry, I am considering this for the assignment but could I recreate it in paint? I’m not sure, I think maybe my painting skills haven’t developed enough yet.

Although this was the best study yet I wasn’t sure I could recreate the look in acrylic and so I decided to go with an urban art style painting this way the painting would take on a life of it’s own.

The Final Piece

Choice of Background

7 Creating a Collage on Card

7 Creating a Collage on Card

I wanted to start with an expressive background and I did look at different artists and even thought about trying to recreate a similar background to Elizabeth Magill’s paintings that I covered in my Tutor Recommendations 1 Post. In the end I settled for something that I had wanted to do for a long time and inspired by Guy Denning’s drawings over newspaper I began to put together a collage background from the Bangkok post. It has been eventful 2 years with a Military Coupe and bomb blasts signalling the end of democracy and a military clamp down here in Thailand and we have all felt it from Farang (westerners) to Thai people and if anything was going to create a trigger for my release of emotion while working on this painting, then local newspapers would be it.

 

8 Covering the White Spaces

8 Covering the White Spaces

Once I had glued all the newspaper clips that wound me up to the backing board and wrote a few comments on it to how Thais perceived race and skin colour over the top pf the newspaper clippings to try and get my emotions stirring even more , I painted out the white space of the board below.

 

 

 

 

9 Dripping Technique

9 Dripping Technique

Before i started painting I wanted to ‘mess’ it up even more but in a way that it would add feeling to the painting so it had to be in a semi orderly fashion so I decided to create a dripping effect over the top of the collage.

To do this I added thick dollops of acrylic paint at the top of the support and then began to spray them with a spray gun then when they had run right down to the bottom I turned the board on the other end and let it run back as it was too runny.

Once the drips were dry I did the same with blue but this time I used a thicker mixture so I only had to run it one way.

10 Testing Colour

10 Testing Colour

Once that was done I drew in the shape of my head working from studies with water soluble oil pastels so I could paint over the top or erase the lines easy enough if I was way out.

As I hadn’t really decided whether to use skin tones or cooler blue tones here I painted in the shape of my face neck and traps with a skin colour and then sprayed it to let it run down below to see how it would work with the background and other colours.

 

 

 

11 Building up Tone

11 Building up Tone

After realizing that the lighter skin tones wouldn’t work with the background and other colours I decided on blue. I began by building up the tone with Prussian blue and white but I was left with the dilemma of the lighter colour drips below the neck and so began to ponder on how to correct this.

 

 

 

 

 

13 Painting Shoulders

13 Painting Shoulders

My solution was to paint the shoulders but in an expressive way that made it look as if the arms were lifting up. Because I hadn’t made any studies of my shoulders and it wass quite spontaneous I lifted one side up and then the other in the mirror doing my best to try to make them look as anatomically correct as possible. The light source was overhead coming from a ceiling light directly above but the shadows in my studies fell to the left in the painting so I had to try build up the shadows on the shoulders on that side.

 

 

 

14 Adding More Feeling

14 Adding More Feeling

I could have left it there but I thought that if I added hands to the painting I could probably create more emotion but to add the hands I had to lift the shoulders up even more in their natural positions and so instead of looking in the mirror this time I worked with my gained knowledge of anatomy to paint the shoulders, lifting them up and giving them more shape and feeling.

 

 

 

 

15 Painting Hands

15 Painting Hands

With the hands I cheated and took photos and then painted directly on to the background without any drawing studies, I figured this would give me the same results as working from life ass I couldn’t correct them after. With the hands I painted in the the dark solid shapes and then used an almost impasto technique for the whiter tones.

 

 

 

 

16 Adding Light

16 Adding Light

At this point it looked like I was drowning and the blue lumpy drips were like bubbles floating upwards while I sank to the murky . I showed a friend at this stage who said that the hands made me look like I was trapped inside myself trying to get out, at least I had created some kind of mood and emotion.

 

 

 

 

 

17 Finished Painting

17 Finished Painting

I wasn’t happy withe clash of colours, not that I didn’t want a clash of colour but because the red and clashing blues made it look like some kind of superhero cartoon and so reflecting on what I had learnt from Picasso’s Blue Period paintings in the previous research point I went over the background with a thin (but maybe not as thin as I’d liked) wash of blue which did look better although the newspaper clips aren’t as visible.

From there I continued to let myself be influenced by Picasso and started to add rose to the face and thin layers of red to the lips as well as painting in the teeth and a very small amount of the whites of the eyes. This really brought the painting to life and I felt that I had succeeded not just in creating mood and atmosphere to the painting but in recreating a similar technique used by Picasso in his blue period paintings.

17 Finished Painting

17 Finished Painting

 

 

 

 

Looking at Faces 3 – Head and Shoulders Portrait

I begun this exercise looking at faces of my colleagues. This would help me to decide:

  • How much shoulder to include in the painting.
  • Which Angle to paint the face at.
  • The best way to paint the hair.
  • Whether to paint with eyes open or close

My tutor recommended three artists to my in my last tutor report and one that I thought about for this exercise was an artist called Gwen John. The artist was recommended for her subtle use of tone but it wasn’t this that came to mind when I started working on this exercise.

Gewn John - The Convalescent 1924

Gewn John – The Convalescent 1924

Among the works of Gwen John were a couple of paintings that I thought would really help me cope with a head and shoulders portrait, these were ‘The Convalescent’ and ‘The Precious Book’.

In these two paintings the artist painted her subjects with eyes facing down, reading. With Thai girls it is hard to keep them posed for long lengths of time without them wanting to browse at their Facebook profile or Line Messenges. So what better way to get them seated still than actually give them their smartphone.

With eyes facing down I don’t have to spend too much time painting the details in their eyes and the South East Asian eye lids are also quite beautiful.

The subtle tones Gwen John employs in her paintings are also quite interesting and very different from my work so far that has been quite bold,I’ve noticed other students have created some really soft tones in their paintings but so far I just haven’t been able to. Hopefully my brush skills will improve and soft tones will be something I will be able to achieve.

Drawings of Colleagues

2nd Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

2nd Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

Thai’s have big lips and if you draw them at an angle that is only slightly out they can look too big although the size of the lips to the rest of the face is correct. You can see this in the first portrait drawing in charcoal of Lee, one of the beautiful Thai desk staff at our language centre.

Thai hair can be either dark brown or jet black but they do like to have highlights put in their hair which really helps when drawing them and helped me to create a sense of body to her hair.

Hair can also be used to frame the face, here I have used it to define her cheek bones on a usually rounded face.

1st Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

1st Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

For this second sketch of the other girl on the desk, Nah, I was asked to ‘make her beautiful’ which can be translated to ‘make me white’Thais are over concerned about skin colour. Nah has a darker complexion than Lee but here I have managed to capture all her features without using too much shading on the face. Again the hair played a big part of shaping the face and defining the cheek bones.

Thais have unusually shaped heads  and quite often the back of the head is flat so this drawing as with the previous sketch of Lee I stuck to drawing the front of the face and by doing this was only able to add a little bit of shoulder due to the size of the face on the paper.

There was a lot of blinking going on while working on her eyes so I didn’t manage to depict much life in them so at this stage I was thinking that eyes down or even closed was a better option.

3rd Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

3rd Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

For the third drawing I chose the only teacher in the staff-room that was willing to let me draw her face but she wishes she hadn’t. Allah is Russian and what I have noticed with a lot of Russian’s is that they have what I would call prominent eyelids which when open can make the eyes look slightly googly.

There is a lot more detail on Caucasian faces than South East Asian and so for this portrait I used a softer less compressed charcoal so I wouldn’t make her look too old while drawing these details such as dimples on cheek, creases on forehead and creases under the eyes.

I would have quite liked to have painted her for this exercise but she wasn’t impressed by the drawing and said that it didn’t look like her, even though others shouted her name and pointed at her as soon as they saw the drawing.

4th Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

4th Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

The next drawing was of my girlfriend at home, I have always found her very difficult to draw for some reason. Probably because I know she is my second worse critic, next to myself.

This time was no different, there is a likeness but not much. Her hair however is lovely and I think I managed to capture some of this in the drawing.

This drawing helped me decide on amount of shoulder to paint in the finished piece, deciding that more was better and I thought at the right angle I can make the shape of the head look okay.

5th Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

5th Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

With my subject chosen and to be honest it was always going to be my girlfriend as the Thais get a bit suspicious with other women coming into your apartment I went on to look at different head positions. This next one wasn’t brilliant, it might have been me getting bored of the charcoal so I went onto draw this pose again in oil pastel.

6th Sketch Oil Pastel - Experimenting

6th Sketch Oil Pastel – Experimenting

Working in oil pastel for the next drawing of the same pose I thought it was rather bland so chose to do a bit of experimenting running my finger down the the completed drawing which had a rain down a window effect.

7th Sketch Oil Pastel - Looking at Colour

7th Sketch Oil Pastel – Looking at Colour

This was a quick drawing in oil pastel, The likeness wasn’t great, in fact there was nothing much about this drawing that resembled my girlfriend but I liked the way the colours I used made it look like her face was reflecting the colour of her yellow top. This reminded me of Monet’s ‘Women with a Parasol’ where the bottom of her sleeve reflected the yellow flowers. This gave e an idea, to try and depict her in an outdoor scene or at least paint her on a blue background so it would help the viewer come to this conclusion.

The Final painting

8 - Drawing with Paint

8 – Drawing with Paint

1.  I laid down uneven mixes of primary blue and white on the card with random brushstrokes. I was hoping that this would give a nice background to the painting but then when I came to sketch the shape of her head and face I used a paint that was just too dark which may have been okay but then I realised the face was just too large and I had to correct it.

9 - Correcting the Shape of the Face

9 – Correcting the Shape of the Face

2. In order to correct the shape of the face I had to paint in some of her features. This was a valuable lesson. When drawing in paint on to a prepared background it was better to start off smaller and work bigger if needed.

3. The shape of the hair was a major part of this painting so I left off the face to paint in the hair with various colours such as pale blue, yellow ocre, burnt umber and black, this gave the hair some body. As I noticed earlier the hair framed the face and so it was a good idea to to paint the hair at this early stage.

10 - Painting overLines

10 – Painting overLines

4. Painting the hair really helped. From this I managed to get the shape of the forehead, profile and jaw line just right.

I then moved on to the shoulders painting in the basic shape followed by her hair over her right shoulder.

My next action would change the feeling of the whole painting. First I painted over the dark erroneous lines with a pale blue then a pale yellow to see how the portrait looked with each colour as a background. Both colours made it look that it had been painted outside but I still wasn’t sure which I would choose for the background.

The pale yellow on the blue looked like the sun was shining behind her but the light on the face told a different story.

11 - New Background

11 – New Background

5. Once I had painted the hair over her shoulder I decided that I would finish the painting without the model. This was so that i wouldn’t be influenced when it came to adding shadow and other details.

6. I began to play with the background, uneven mixes of blue and white in a swirling motion around the figure. It was the swirl of yellow that was there previously that gave me this idea.

12 - Adding More Shadow and Complimentary Colour

12 – Adding More Shadow and Complimentary Colour

7. After studying the painting for two or three weeks thinking about what was wrong with it and wondering why she looked like, what I would describe as a Spanish senorita. I realised that it was the background that made the painting look flat.

Studying the yellow tones on the face and the models top I went over the background with very thin layers of rose paint following the brushstrokes. The pink mixed with the blue gave me light purplish tones, purple being the complimentary colour of yellow, really helped the portrait in the foreground to pop out.

This was a really hard painting to take a photo of due to the colours used and that’s why the colours look different in every photo which don’t really do the painting justice.

My thoughts on the final drawing

I am quite happy with the the finished painting although the background would may have looked even better with clouds depicted in the background. I did think about this but I painted on a small format and there wasn’t much space around the background to add this detail.

Queen Sirikit Gallery – Best Art Thesis 2015

The Queen’s Gallery has continuously taken a role in providing an opportunity for young artists to exhibit their works. Year 2015 marks the 7th year that The Queen’s Gallery presents “The Best Art Thesis Exhibition” displaying the best thesis works of arts that are well selected by professors and instructors from renowned art institute. With the total of 121 art pieces including sculptures and paintings, each institution had selected 2 outstanding works of arts from master degree students and 3 outstanding works of arts from bachelor degree students who have been developing skills and identities throughout their college years, in order to publicize their talents, to open their visions and to offer experiences in terms of becoming professional artists.

The Exhibition

(unfortunately the photos for this exhibition were left in my tablet that I recently forgot in a Taxi, the driver of which would not answer his phone)

I was very fortunate to visit the gallery at a time when they were exhibiting over 121 of the best art students’ art thesis of 2015 and it was very inspiring. Learning painting myself now, I could see how the students had employed the techniques and the mediums that they had explored in their art degrees.

Pen and Sepia Ink

Pen and Sepia Ink

There were sections for watercolour, acrylic, oil, mixed meda and sculptor, the paintings in all sections were very impressive and looked very, very professional. In the mixed media section there were even paintings painted in rubber sap from the rubber tree which was a sepia colour. This inspired the self portrait to the left in pen and sepia ink.

 

 

 

 

Even though the beautiful photos of the paintings that I took were lost in my tablet in the taxi I was lucky to make the following sketch of one of the paintings at the exhibition and note the artists inspiration for the painting.

Sketch of a painting at the Best in Thesis 2015

Sketch of a painting at the Best in Thesis 2015

Apart from the watercolour paintings that were mostly of flowers and plants the paintings in other mediums were of some really interesting subjects, but my favourite paintings were by students from king Mongkut’s university of technology that were mostly of industrial subjects such as miners and foundry workers as well as surrealist paintings with characters made up of wires and nuts and bolts.

All-in-all it was a very inspiring exhibition just a crying shame that the photos were lost. All I could find on line were photos of the following paintings.

 

Kannikar Permkittikul - In Room

Kannikar Permkittikul – In Room

Nidtaya Sornpo - Beauty of Women

Nidtaya Sornpo – Beauty of Women

Somsak Junto - Untitled 2015

Somsak Junto – Untitled 2015

 

Drawing and Painting Interiors 1 : Research Point, Genre Painters

Research the work of the Dutch realist genre painters and choose two or three paintings that particularly appeal to you. Find out what you can about the artist and their intentions. Look at the devices employed to draw the viewer into the experience of the occupants of the room.

The first artist that I thought of when I hit this research point was Vermeer, then I realised I had that I had recently come into possession of book , Vermeer and the Delft School by Walter Liedtke. Chapter 5, Genre Painting in Delft after 1650 may help me to identify some of other Dutch realist genre painters.

Delft is is a city in the Central West of the  Netherlands. located in the province of South Holland, it is situated north of Rotterdam and south of the The Hague. The Delft school is a category of mid-seventeenth golden age painting named after the city of Delft which it used as its base, the school is best known for its genre paintings.

Genre Paintings

Genre paintings are visual documents recording scenes and events in every day life, These works contain scenes of markets, streets, taverns and interiors. Probably the most well known Dutch realistic genre painters is Johannes Vermeer who painted almost all his paintings in two smallish rooms at his home in Delft. Due to the incredible detail in Vermeer’s paintings and the perspective of the rooms and the proportions of the objects depicted in the paintings some art historians and artists including David Hockney, who wrote the book ‘secret Knowledge have argued that the artist had to have used optics like a camera obscura to complete his paintings.

Johannes Vermeer - The Music Lesson

Johannes Vermeer – The Music Lesson 1662-1663

If Vermeer was the first genre painter I thought of then the painting above was definitely going to be the first genre painting that came into my head. Who knows what the artists intention was here when he painted ‘the Music Lesson’ (Vermeer and the Deft School, pg160).  Maybe this every day scene tells a story of how the wealthy spend their time in Delft, the rich rug, the marble floor and the harpsichord tell us the owner of the house (if we didn’t know it was Vermeer) wasn’t poor; or maybe it tells a different story a story of a music student in love with her teacher or vice versa, we think she’s concentrating on the keys while the reflection in the mirror tells a different story.

There are several devices that Vermeer uses to draw us into the experience of the occupants of the room here and the mirror is just one of them. If the detail of the room doesn’t suck you in straight away, you start to notice things like the way the  characters are stood at one side of the harpsichord as though they are trying to escape the sun’s glare through the window. One device that he uses, maybe not to suck you into the occupants experience but to definitely suck you into that room is perspective and how he uses the proportions of the table, jug and other items to set up a perfect linear perspective with a foreground, middle and background. The proportions at which he has painted the table and jug allow them to be seen as though they are in the foreground.

As you look at the painting, you can’t help but let your eyes follow the floor and walls along the left of the room and he has achieved this by giving you a clear path to walk along  by shifting the furniture and the occupants to the right hand side of the room and then shifted your gaze towards the windows by pointing the chair and the jug towards them.

Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman with a Wineglass 1959-60

Johannes Vermeer – Young Woman with a Wineglass 1959-60

Several of his paintings such as ‘Young Woman with a wineglass’ (page 159) employ the gaze of the sitter looking in the direction of the viewer to pull you into the experience of the viewer in the room. And for me, that particular painting says ‘look at me, I’m having my first glass of wine, aren’t I naughty’, but would the gaze of the young woman be enough. This ‘comparatively conventional composition…with its emphasis upon perspective allowed him to place figures and objects at a certain distance from the viewer and thus to describe them more summarily as components in a visual field’

 

 

Peter de Hooch - Card Players in a Sunlit Room

Peter de Hooch – Card Players in a Sunlit Room

Born in Rotterdam, Peter de Hooch was a contemporary of Johannes Vermeer at the Delft Guild of St. Luke with their paintings sharing similar themes and styles. However, before switching his focus to domestic scenes his earlier paintings mostly composed of scenes of soldiers and peasants in stables and taverns. As well as being accurate records of everyday life at the time his paintings also functioning as well-ordered morality tales.

In the painting ‘Card Players in a Sunlit Room’ de Hooch uses the same conventional composition as can be seen in Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman with a Wineglass’ where there is a background, the woman walking towards the door and everything outside, a middle-ground, the card players and everything from them to the door and a foreground, the space between the viewer and the card players of which the viewer too becomes a part of. You get a sense that he’s keeping the viewer at bay, not letting you know exactly what the group are up to, what game they are playing or what cards they are holding while keeping but feeding you just enough information to keep you enthralled.

It has been said, I don’t know who said it, but it was mentioned in Tim’s Vermeer, that Vermeer painted with light and indeed there is a documentary by Joe Krakora titled ‘Vermeer: Master of Light’. Looking at works by both de Hooch and Vermeer it seems they share a similar mastery of light but it was Vermeer’s work in particular that reminded me of the works by two 20th century artists who also took full advantage of the light in their paintings.

Edward Hopper

Light plays an important part of Edward Hopper’s paintings and when you look at Hopper’s paintings at the side of Vermeer’s the influence is very clear but they both use light in different ways.

Vermeer paints a warm calming light while Hopper paints an uncomfortable glare that shines through mostly bare windows indicating the hardships of lonely city life. His genre paintings are usually of interesting characters posed in simple compositions in usually off-angled almost empty apartments or hotel rooms. As the viewer he has left it as your job to workout the relationship between the occupants of the room.

Edward Hopper - Hotel by a Railroad

Edward Hopper – Hotel by a Railroad

David Hockney

David Hockney, (born July 9, 1937, Bradford, Yorkshire, England), English painter, draftsman, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer whose works are characterized by economy of technique, a preoccupation with light, and a frank, mundane realism derived from Pop art and photography. – www.britannica.com

David Hockney - George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

David Hockney – George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

Where as Hopper’s interiors mostly seem to be at off-angles, Hockney’s interiors, and exteriors for that matter are full on with the edge of the canvas level with the horizontal walls, like as in George Lawson and Wayne Sleep above. However, unlike Vermeer and Hopper’s painting we don’t seem to be invited in to Hockney’s paintings only allowed to view from the sidelines at exceptionally still figures.

Johannes Vermeer - The Music Lesson

Johannes Vermeer – The Music Lesson

Edward Hopper - Hotel by a Railroad

Edward Hopper – Hotel by a Railroad

David Hockney - George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

David Hockney – George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

 

 

 

 

 

What is clear though is that Vermeer, Hopper and Hockney’s paintings above when laid next to each other look like distant cousins, showing similarities particularly  the way they have used light and used it to illuminate faces. Although the type of light they use is different it plays a key part in the atmosphere as well as the overall meaning of the painting and with Hockney’s the light highlights the relationship between the occupants of the room. Although the two figures are obviously posing in inanimate poses there is still a lot going on the form of light and colour as the sunlight shines through both the bedroom and living room windows and illuminates the walls in an array of colours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working on Different Coloured Grounds 2 – Tonal Study on a Dark Ground

Finished Tonal Study

Finished Tonal Study

As briefed I prepared a dark ground with a dark wash of payne’s grey, this I did on A3 size watercolour paper. I had gone larger with the first painting but this time I stuck to the guidelines in the last exercise, Tonal study on a white ground, having now plucked up a bit of courage and got more confident with the brushes.

Chosen Composition

Chosen Composition

As in the last exercise I used acrylic paint for both the ‘imprimatura’ and the actual painting, I still haven’t plucked up enough confidence to use oils, I think this is because I am very worried about the drying time in my small condominium.

Having just researched ‘chiaroscuro‘ in the last research point, the works of Joseph Wight of Derby and the candlelit studies of Rembrandt really appealed to me and so I chose to do this study by candle light (from a large Buddhist candle that I bought for drawing 1) rather than it being lit from the side with the bendy lamp that I have used in the past.

Because I wanted to employ chiaroscuro effects in this painting the best way to do this was to create a composition that reflected the light best, so I played around with the three subjects that I used for the last exercise until I found a composition that worked well, reflecting light in a dramatic way.

Materials Used for this painting

  • Canson Watercolour Paper (A3)
  • Acryic Paint: Titanium White, Payne’s Grey, Chromium Oxide Green
  • Brushes: Medium Wide (synthetic), Fan, Pointed Round (synthetic), Flat (synthetic) Detail Flat (hog’s bristle) 
  • An old bank card
Empty Calcium Container

Empty Calcium Container

I sat facing the objects with the bendy lamp behind me switching it on as I needed as it was quite difficult to paint the objects in the dark.

For the first object, the empty calcium container I used payne’s grey (undiluted) for the darker shadows leaving the colour of the ground showing through in places for the reflections. I then painted the lighter reflections in a diluted mix of payne’s grey, white and green with highlights in titanium white which I later dulled down in a very dilute mix of green and grey. I then painted a thin line of reflection on the edge of the container by applying paint with an old bank card.

Reflection inside jar

Reflection inside jar

From there I painted the broad band of light reflected inside the vase which was empty for this painting rather than filled with coffee as it was for the last exercise. The reason for painting this part of the jar was so that I knew how far the orange needed to be as i would be painting that next and coming back to the jar as this would be the most difficult part of the painting.

Painting the orange helped me to decide on the tones I would be using for the rest of the painting as up until now I wasn’t sure if I should be putting more of the green in the mixes but as I

Orange

Orange

started painting the orange I saw that the balance of green grey and white was really nice and so I continued as I was. There is a white line on the bottom of the orange that I can see now as I am typing this that I will have to blend in before it’s finished.

After completing the orange I went back to completing the jar which took a create deal of effort  as I messed up with the reflections and highlights a couple of times and had to paint in and around it and trying to find the right mix of Payne’s grey and white was a difficult task.

Completed jar

Completed jar

I do realize that the aim of these exercises is to focus on tone rather than precision but I do like the objects to be the right shape and if the shape is out I do tend to correct them and with the jar it took some effort.

I think for my first attempt at using (if that’s the correct term) chiaroscuro effects I did quite well. The painting took me less time to complete than the Tonal study on a white ground as i was modeling light rather than painting whole objects, apart from the orange which I actually thought I could leave some of the ground coming through for the darker shadows.

On modeling light: Again for a first attempt I think I did quite well, there is still a lot of the ground showing through so I did use the ground to the best of my ability at this point, painting the reflections and shadows helped me to create the shape of the objects as to just painting them and adding the reflections later.

Comparison: Looking at the two studies I have to say that I prefer this one, it was not only easier and quicker but I think it does look much better and composition as a much more dramatic appearance.

Tonal Study on a White Ground

Tonal Study on a White Ground

Finished Tonal Study

Finished Tonal Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Difficulties: 

  • Painting in low light: This was extremely awkward and I had to keep turning the lamp behind me on and off.
  • Matching up paint with the coloured ground: There were times when I had to correct mistakes by painting on the ground, by doing this I had to match up the tones, I still haven’t perfected this but I realised I had to go with a very dilute mix and then thicken it up to match up the colours.
  • Painting very thin lines of light/highlights: There were times when I used the edge of a bank card, there were times when I went to thick and then thinned them down by painting against them with a darker colour.
  • Getting the colour mixes right: I used a second sheet of the same dark wash to try out the mixes if I was unsure.