Tag Archives: assignment 3

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.