Tag Archives: part 3 portrait and figure

People in Context 1 – Research Point – Figures in Interiors

Look at some paintings of figures in interiors from different periods and choose two or three pictures that particularly appeal to you. At least one of these should be from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Consider what you think the artists’ intentions are and look at the technical and creative solutions that they’ve brought to the subject.

Two artists that came straight to mind for this research point are two artists that I have already researched David Hockney and Edward Hopper.

David Hockney

Mr and Mrs. Clark and Percy david Hockney

Mr and Mrs. Clark and Percy David Hockney

The relationship between the figures in David Hockney’s paintings are not exactly clear as he separates them leaving you the name of the painting to work this out for yourself.  His subjects especially in his 1970’s paintings were often wealthy, and in Paintings such as Mr and Mrs. Clark and Percy (left) you do get the impression that they are wealthy professionals of some sort.

David Hokney My parents

David Hokney My parents

Linear perspective plays a big part in Hockney’s paintings. The subjects in his more familiar figures in interior paintings were often set in front of a flat back wall with a mat, table or chair painted in perspective to add depth to the painting. As well is this he also painted open doors or a view through a window to create depth.

David Hockney Card Players No1

David Hockney Card Players No1

When you look at the painting card players left you can see that he knew others were also aware of the linear perspective to his paintings. Here he reverses it adding a little confusion for the viewer.

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper Morning Sun (1952)

Edward Hopper Morning Sun (1952)

Edward hopper’s paintings portray the loneliness of life in America at that time, a big country that like Thailand probably had a lot of folk from the country to the city for work, where they knew no one. To get this loneliness across he painted lonely figures in almost empty apartments using cold colours to depict bare walls and it worked.

Vadim Zanginian

While browsing through hundreds of paintings for this research pint I came across this Armenian artist who’s approach to painting this subject has really opened my my mind up. Vadim Zanginian paints with wild, wide brushstrokes that don’t allow you to focus on the interior behind the model even though you are well aware of it and the furniture in the room.

John Singer Sargent

The Model Interior with Standing Figure - John Singer Sargent

The Model Interior with Standing Figure – John Singer Sargent

A similar technique can be seen here in John Singer Sargent’s painting ‘The Model: Interior with Standing Figure’. This is probably one of the most beautiful paintings I have come across this year. At first glance I saw a wonderfully clear figure standing in front of a sketchy background with beautiful tones as I enlarged it I could see it was almost a tonal study, painted quite quickly or so it seems but very effective.

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard - Model in Backlight

Pierre Bonnard – Model in Backlight

In the painting ‘Pierre Bonnard – Model in Backlight’ (left). The foreground and the model are solid but as you move towards the background the swirls of colour separated  by white spaces force you to see light shining through a window or patio door covered by a net curtain.

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Looking at Faces 2 – Self Portrait

 

Existing Studies

I have spent the last few months drawing a self portrait every chance I got using my phone’s camera as a mirror and sometimes working from a photo. I even started one project where I got the students to draw a self portrait and I would draw one next to it to give me a little push, unfortunately I lost the sketch book but did manage to take some photos.

I’m lucky to still have some sketches in other sketch books, all of which are very quick sketches using different mediums. Although they do not all look like me there is a reoccurring resemblance.

This exercise

The brief for this exercise: Make a self portrait of just your head and shoulders. You can choose to work with either natural light but natural light is best. Set up your equipment so that you can see yourself and your work surface clearly. Make sure that your face is lit from one side with the other side in shadow. Any additional light that you need should not shine into your face.

Choose a light, dark or mid-toned fabric background if you can fasten it behind you. Try out the effects of each and assess which of them gives the greatest interest in terms of tonal contrast or visual impact.

I set up a backdrop of an orange monk cloth that I draped over my largest drawing board and propped it up behind me on the sofa with a small round mirror. They only portable mirror I have out in front of me on a small coffee table. I closed the bathroom door and closed the curtain on the Juliet balcony so the only light that was entering the room was coming through the kitchen door.

1st Drawing Charcoal

1st Drawing Charcoal

2nd Drawing OilPastel

2nd Drawing OilPastel

3rd Drawing Oil Pastel in the Bathroom

3rd Drawing Oil Pastel in the Bathroom

I completed the first drawing in charcoal with my glasses on. I was trying to smile while drawing it and I think I managed to capture some of that. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any likeness of me whatsoever apart from maybe an ear, the shape of the head and maybe an eyebrow. All the studies I had done were so far not paying off.

 

In the second drawing in oil pastel I managed to capture a bit more likeness and some of the smile I was cracking was even there although the eyes didn’t show this. Focusing on the mouth I could draw a smirk but when I drew the eyes my expression went serious again.

The orange backdrop was working though, it created a nice effect and I though I could continue with this but I needed a larger mirror. I was just too far away from the subject to be able to focus. I’ve been wearing my glasses so often lately that even tho I’m longsighted my eyes aren’t focusing right without them and I didn’t want to paint myself with them on.

I put a blue polo shirt on which gave a bit of contrast to the orange backdrop which I now taped to the bathroom door behind me. This drawing was a lot better than the first two but t did take a lot longer to complete and by the time I had finished my eyes were very blur. I wasn’t sure how I would cope painting myself in the bathroom or for any length of time without my glasses on for that matter but I was going to have a go.

1 Drawing with Paint on multi-Coloured was background

Drawing with Paint on multi-Coloured was background

I prepared the support with two different semi-transparent washes from opposite corners and let them bleed into each other. Once it was dry I painted the outline of my face head and shoulders in a dilute yellow ochre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Building up Layers of Paint

2 Building up Layers of Paint

Then my idea was to paint the lightest tones and work darker. This is probably where I started to go wrong, thinking about it now it may have been better to start with the darkest colours and then build up the lightest colours on top rather than the other way round.

I had drawn the primary sketches during the daytime but for the painting I was painting at night with two light sources. The light in the shower as the one above the sink luckily was not working and a bendy lamp shining through the door on one half of my face.

 

 

3 Looking Old and Already Hating it

3 Looking Old and Already Hating it

I moved on to the background to build up the colour there to give me some idea to how the painting would look. It was at this stage that I started to get annoyed with myself. The painting started to look like me but it just wasn’t me, this wasn’t my style and I really did not want to continue with it. The orange background didn’t help.

The photo of the painting right, was about where I left it for the first day and I hated it. I wasn’t use to painting myself from that angle. I usually attempted self portraits from the front and not having a clear all round vision I found it difficult to get it right.

Giving up Point

Giving up Point

After painting, repainting and eventually messing up and painting a silly pair of glasses on it, I gave up, it was time to start a fresh.The painting right is now on the back of the new painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh attempt at a Self Portrait

Remembering a self portrait that I had success with in the earlier drawing course I sat in  the bedroom looking at the mirror on the wardrobe door, switched on the light and pointed it at the side of my face. It was easy to imagine my face as a painting as the light highlighted some really nice shapes and it wasn’t too dark that I couldn’t see the right side of my face.

Preparation

I prepared the back of the existing self portrait with a layer of burnt umber mixed with black and then once that had dried went over it again with another layer of Payne’s grey, shaved my head and waited to start the painting the next night.

Second Attempt at Self Portrait

Second Attempt at Self Portrait

This time I decided to work with the board on my knee rather than on the easel as I didn’t want it to cast any unwanted shadows plus it was easier as I could move it around freely which was great for working on the details of the eyes. I’m not to worried about getting the details or shape of the face wrong but I’ve found that if you get the eyes wrong people automatically say it doesn’t look like you.

I worked in various mixes of white and Payne’s grey rather than colour and this low level light I would have probably only used one or two colours anyway but it was quite dark and the board was dark so I needed to be able to see what I was painting so these two mixed together where ideal.

I used one brush a small flat brush and painted as if I was drawing starting on the left side of my face painting in the darker tones and then slowly building up the lighter tones. Once the right hand side of the face was complete from the neck to the crown I started on the right hand side by painting in the background with Payne’s grey and just a tiny pit of white modelling the light around my head to for the shape of my face and head then painted in the subtle highlights to form the shadows on my face and ear.  The problem was the bedroom was too dark to see the slight difference in the shade of paint so I had to turn the big light on from time to time so that I could see what I was doing.

I managed to finish most of the painting in one sitting and with the main shapes and features painted I could work on some details in natural light the next day which allowed me to see any details that didn’t look right, these were easily be corrected by reshaping.

Overall thoughts on this exercise

I feel that I let myself down giving up on a painting which I had never done before but sometimes you have to start a fresh. I realise that the first painting may have had more character if completed with imperfections but I am really happy with the final painting and how I chose to complete it. I think impatience got the better of me here, being too impatient to mix paint and to deal with what seamed to be ever changing detail working at an awkward angle.

Thoughts on final piece

The length of the head is slightly long but this is from working with the board on my knee. The painting shows a real likeness but is let down by having little or no character. On a positive note this is the first time I have completed a painting with full brushstrokes rather than the scrumbling technique that I seem to keep reverting to in previous paintings.

Observing the Human Figure 1 – Drawing the Human Figure

The brief for this exercise was to:

Set my model in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down making sure there is sufficient light both on the subject and the working surface. 

The Head length is generally 1/7 of the full length of a standing figure, this can be used to measure proportions…Look at the shapes or outlines surrounding the figure which will help to locate the figure in space. 

Use any drawing medium to mark out the principle shapes in your sketchbook…Make several sketches, working quickly each time and adjusting measurements as you progress…Move around the figure trying out different angles.

1 Drawing in Pencil

1 Drawing in Pencil

Throughout the Drawing figures part of the Drawing 1 Course I took advantage of the fact that my girlfriend is a yoga teacher and it was no different in this exercise. Asking her to hold positions that were quite difficult so there were often breaks mid drawing.

The first pose in pencil wasn’t the easiest for me or the model but it was an extremely quick drawing. This was down to being able to draw large parts of the figure in one continuous line such as the head back bottom under the thigh. It was also a very easy pose to position in my sketchbook.

 

 

2 Drawing in Charcoal

2 Drawing in Charcoal

The second drawing was in charcoal and was a seated pose so it gave my model a break for a few minutes. Working with this medium it didn’t take long to get the drawing anatomically correct but then again I have had a lot of practise drawing the same model.

The benefit of this pose is being able to use the shapes within the figure to get the measurements right. The face bares no resemblance at all but I’m not too bothered at this stage it was the outline and negative space that I was concentrating on.

 

 

4 Drawing in Ballpoint Pen

3 Drawing in Ballpoint Pen

The third pose in ballpoint pen was inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Goldfish which is probably one of my favourite Klimt paintings. Again this was quite a quick pose but quite awkward so we had to take a break mid pose. It is a nice pose to sketch but probably one I would not choose to paint due to the length of time it would take in a very uncomfortable position.

The back muscles look nice especially the prominent muscles at either side of the spine are wonderful to draw but the bottom is not defined this is due to my girlfriend, like most Thais, not having a prominent bottom.

 

 

3 Continuous Outline Drawing

4 Continuous Outline Drawing

On the next drawing I decided to do the same pose but this time I decided to draw the outline with one continuous line. The benefit or practising to draw with one continuous line is that when it comes to drawing with paint on a canvas or other support I will hopefully be making less corrections.

Drawing in pencil this time I managed to give her what she wished for, a large bum.

 

 

 

5 Drawing in Oil Pastel

5 Drawing in Oil Pastel

The next pose was probably the most difficult for her too hold so I did the drawing in stages. My chosen medium for this drawing was oil pastel. I drew the outline very quickly with a neutral colour and did my best to mark out folds of skin and shadow before taking a break. This allowed me to build up colour and tone without having to look at the model all the time and she wasn’t having to stay long in the position for the second sitting while I corrected  some outlines.

Parts of the drawing do look incorrect and she looks fatter in the drawing than she actually is but rather than keep working on it I decided to move on to the next.

6 Back to Pencil

6 Back to Pencil

The next pose was a lot nicer and even though it looks quite technical was very easy to draw with the actual figure taking me not much more than a couple of minutes to draw. This time I decided. to add the chair and some background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Another Drawing in Oil Pastel

7 Another Drawing in Oil Pastel

From there I went back to the oil pastel with a pose that was also very quick and easy to draw this time from the front with the model slightly more upright. As I was drawing from the front, the shapes on the left and right arm and leg were almost symmetrical which saved some time so I managed to add a bit of colour and tone without having to take a break.

I really like this pose due as her breasts and shoulders have a really nice shape, I will probably come back to paint something similar later.

 

 

 

8 Watercolour Sketch

8 Watercolour Sketch

I chose to do the next drawing in watercolour in my mixed media sketchbook with a similar pose to the second drawing in charcoal but this time with the head turned towards the wall so I didn’t have to mess around with facial features, It’s really easy to draw on a small scale in watercolour  and it helped drawing in charcoal first as I was already got used to drawing the shapes involve with this pose.

 

 

 

 

On the whole I think I did quite well on this exercise and tried out different drawing mediums rather than just charcoal. I know I was told to focus on outline but I wanted to a bit further.