Tag Archives: portrait and figure painting

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.

 

 

 

People in Context 3 – Telling a Story

The brief for this exercise was to create a simple narrative, involving one or two human figures and produce a painting that gives the viewer the clearest idea of what is happening.

I came across a photograph of a monk reading a book and praying in a temple in Ayutthaya which gave me an idea for this painting and also ideas for how I would go about depicting the stone wall inside the temple. To avoid plagiarism I would adapt the scene to my own painting in myself as the monk and also adding a twist to what was going on. I wasn’t sure of how it would turn out but I was focused on what I wanted the end painting to look like the problem was getting there was to be very time consuming.

1 - Trying Colours

1 – Trying Colours

The first thing I did was to look at the colours I would use in the painting by drawing the main figure from the already existing photograph just to give me an idea of what colours I would use in the painting. I completed this in water soluble oil pastels, a medium that I had started to use a lot lately.

 

 

 

 

 

2 - Background with Dripping Technique

2 – Background with Dripping Technique

From there I continued to examine the photo to figure out which painting techniques I would use to complete the surroundings. I decided on a dripping technique to start with which would hopefully help me to depict the water stains on the ancient stone walls. As I stated in my previous post I begun this exercise before the ‘A Figure in an Interior’ exercise and so like most of the other exercises I completed it on backing board. I only wish I had painted it on a canvas panel to see how this technique would have turned out on a canvas support.

 

3 - Backgroud Detail

3 – Backgroud Detail

After first using the dripping technique I begun to define the stones themselves. These were very irregular with all different colours, shade and patterns so I wasn’t to worried about doing a brilliant job. When finished it did look like the wall was catching light shining through a window somewhere but the source wasn’t clear it was the figure in the painting that would help determine where that light source came from. I then went on to do some figure studies…

 

Figure Studies

4 - First Figure Study

4 – First Figure Study

With my camera mounted on a newly purchased but cheap tripod I set the camera up on remote and started to snap photographs of myself sat in my best attempt at the lotus position and the orange monk cloth, that I have used as a prop in a lot of previous exercises during the last two courses, draped over my left shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 - Second Figure Study

5 – Second Figure Study

I already new I was going to paint something in the window to the right of the painting and so I positioned a lamp to the left (my right) and faced in direction of the window in all of the photographs, making simple gestures with my left hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 - Third Figure Study

6 – Third Figure Study

Looking back at the these three drawings, which to me were really great studies, especially the ‘Shhhh!’ pose in figure 4. I didn’t really need to paint anything else apart from one of these very suggestive figures which had ample information to complete this exercise.

The water soluble oil pastels gave the drawings a really oily effect, which I loved and so I shall be working on larger paintings from these studies, hopefully in oils in some future project.

 

 

 

Painting in the Figures

7 - Painting in The Robes

7 – Painting in The Robes

After choosing one of the studies to work from, the pose with the pointing figure, I began to paint the figure onto the larger painting. So I wouldn’t mess up the already painted background I drew in the figure in the same oil pastels which could be removed by my battery eraser if I made any mistakes. I was to find out that I could actually paint over any section of the wall if I needed to with a thin mix of paint in thin vertical strokes to keep up with the effect of the water stains.

 

8 - Starting the Figure

8 – Starting the Figure

With the  basic outline drawn out I began to paint in the robes using a medium paste mixed in with the paint to make them stand out more, then I started to paint in the figure. By this time I was having doubts to how the painting would turn out, the pose I had chosen looked quite weak but I carried on nonetheless.

 

 

9 - Painting in the Shadows

9 – Painting in the Shadows

After painting in most of the figure I began to work on the shadow and other objects in the painting. Firstly I began to paint as though the floor was a mirror forgetting about distortions that would be caused by the ancient wooden floor. By this time I had already deleted the photo so I couldn’t copy it making the painting quite hard to paint I decided on painting the shadows by puling the brush down in a slight zig zag motion.

 

10 - Painting in the Second Figure

10 – Painting in the Second Figure

Once I had most of the reflections painted I set about painting in the second figure. At first I though about painting myself hising in the shadows with a lasso around the vase on floor attempting to pinch it, Then I thought about just a pair of evil eyes in the darkness but after another photo shoot with the girlfriend I decided on painting her standing in the shadows to depict the fight with the temptation that all men of the cloth in all religions must go through.

 

11 - Correcting the Pose

11 – Correcting the Pose

A this stage I realised the pose I had put myself in as the monk in the painting was just too weak and so resorting to looking athe photos I had taken earlier and the studies to see which would be a better pose I put together a mixture several poses.

Unfortunately then I had to spend a lot of time changing the reflections on the floor to suit the seated figure.

 

The Finished Painting

The finished painting was very time consuming. over a month with working 7 days and I still think that it is not really a finished piece but more of a study to something that I can can work on later.

My regrets are not working on the solo figures in the study rather than this larger scene as the solo figures were much stronger. The figures in the final piece seem weak, it was a great idea but it needed a lot more time to finish, this maybe something I will continue with but at this time I had to tell myself enough is enough so I can finish this course in time for submission.

12 - Finished Piece

12 – Finished Piece

People in Context 2 – A Figure in an Interior

This was the first exercise of this project, however it was completed after the ‘Telling a Story’ exercise. The reason for me doing this was that the brief for this exercise gave me some interesting ideas and one was to put myself into multiple roles on the same canvas and so I was waiting for a tripod that I ordered.

Then things took a turn while I was doing a photo shoot with the girlfriend for part of the painting I was working on and stumbled upon this almost perfect pose with perfect surroundings and lighting that would help me demonstrate my painting skills and reflect on the previous research point.

At first I fancied painting something with subtle tones along the lines of Gwen John but with this change of circumstances I couldn’t get Hopper out of my brain.

It was late at night and I didn’t want to lose the pose so decided to take a photo and to work from the photo rather from life. The problem was I didn’t want to get back into the habit of producing paintings that were too realistic worrying whether that the painting was as precise as the photograph.

1 First Step - Underpainting

1 First Step – Underpainting

I looked at different techniques that would  help me to overcome this and stumbles across the phrase ‘Underpainting’ the technique itself was one that wasn’t new to me and was already one I had thought about using myself but I just didn’t have a name for it, I do now.

I had completed all previous exercises up to now on either Acrylic/Oil specialist paper or backing board prepared with Gesso. The latter warped a lot and to overcome this I painted the back of the board with a thin layer of paint so it would straighten out, the problem I had then was that paintings stick together when storing them away.  For this painting I decided to push the boat out and buy a canvas panel which are thin enough and light enough to send off for formal assessment.

2 First Step Completed

2 First Step Completed

I prep’d the canvas panel with Gezzo and then a coat of Burnt Umber a colour which I have begun to use more and more of. From there I begun the underpainting process in mizes of Burnt Umber, Mouse Grey and White.

I loved the completed underpainting so much that I actually thought about leaving it in those tones and cleaning it up to give it more sharper detail as a nod to Gillian Carnegie’s paintings but I decided to push on to add colour and detail.

 

 

 

3 Second Step - Adding Colour

3 Second Step – Adding Colour

With the next step I was too thorough and lost one thing that I really liked about the painting in the first step. Although the floor is made up of square ceramic tiles in the first picture you can see that it looks like floor boarding an effect that I would have liked to have kept but in the third photo it looks like a dull carpet, I would have to come back to this and try and recreate that effect.

The skin tones were quite hard to reproduce here and took several pigments mixed together to depict such as yellow, yellow ochre, orange and rose, at times you can see the individual colours that I layered over the top.

 

 

4 Third Step Adding Detail

4 Third Step Adding Detail

 

I added most of the detail, such as the light on the curtain (impasto), the face and shadows which were too dark and so the next step was to tone down which i would do by painting over them with thin layers of colour namely pink and yellow mixed with white.

By the now I had also repainted the floor which took almost three hours to get it to how I wanted it too look complete with the reflections from the light on the curtains.

 

 

 

5 Fifth Step - Adding Detail and Props

5 Fifth Step – Adding Detail and Props

I could have left it like this but the table was empty and didn’t look natural at all so from here I would add some of the items that were on the unkept table, a bottle of beer, a half empty glass, glue and some screwed up paper.

The bottle and glass were a challenge, I had never painted detail so small, the earlier Chiaroscuro exercises helped with this, particularly modelling the light around the glass.

6 Table Close Up

6 Table Close Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Painting

My thoughts on the final painting are that overall I thought I had done a pretty good job and it was enhanced by the texture of the canvas panel.

Shadows particularly on the figure are a bit hard, they were any way but they do look a bit harder in the painting, I’m not sure whether I should try and soften the lines up a bit or leave them as they are.

The feet are a bit deformed making them seem smaller, hopefully this wont be a focal point for anyone, I will not continue to mess these up and will leave them as they are,

7 Finished Piece

7 Finished Piece

 

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.

Looking at Faces 6 – Conveying Character

Oil pastel 2 high tonal

Oil pastel 2 high tonal

The character that I wanted to show for this exercise was a grinning or smiling self portrait, the closest I had come to a smile until now was a small quick portrait that I did in my small sketchbook that I lost a few months ago. Luckily I took a picture of it (left). Yet, even in this picture you can see that it was pretty difficult to crack a smile and it’s only really a half smile, it’s the eyes in the picture that adds the character to it as I have left more white in the eyes to make them look bulging.

 

 

Charcoal on Acrylic

Charcoal on Acrylic

So in this exercise I attempted to capture some character again drawing myself in the mirror which I wasn’t that successful at.

Even though I liked the first study, charcoal on acrylic, a great deal I did look really grumpy, like a sad ‘Yellow Bastard’ the character from Sin City. I really like the effect that drawing with charcoal over the Yellow Ochre acrylic created but I don’t think I will ever again draw myself with glasses on as they add 20 years to me plus they are very difficult to paint.

 

 

Cracking a Smile in Crylic

Cracking a Smile in Crylic

In the next study I think actually did manage to crack a smile but working that fast I also managed to make myself look 20 years older.

Knowing I could smile better than this I decided to take a series of photos and browsed through them to see which ones I could use as a basis for this exercise, as I thought working from a photo would probably be my best bet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blocking In

Blocking In

In one of the photos the smile was almost  a grin as I was really forcing it, I found this very appealing and wanted to over-accentuate this. 

Firstly, I painted a background of Raw Umber and then thick brushstrokes of Raw Umber and White with both a flat and pointed paint brush to build up the shape of the face and shoulders. Then when it started coming together I painted around the shape of my face and shoulders with mix of raw Umber and black. Leaving the square to the right in the original tone. This was wear the moonlight came into the bedroom through the curtains but I wasn’t sure I would paint them in yet. In fact I could have actually left it here because it looked quite good as it did in all the stages of this painting.

 

Adding Detail

Adding Detail

From here I worked on the eyes, painting them in in a blue-turquoise colour. Almost the complimentary colour of the Raw Umber and white mix. Adding the eye detail made me look a bit more sinister and so I decided to carry on although I wasn’t sure where I was heading at this stage.

 

 

 

 

Painting in the Curtains

Painting in the Curtains

After building up the light and shadow on the face and creating quite strong tones I decided to paint in the curtains in a white/turquoise mix keeping to the complimentary colours and this worked really well. I wasn’t sure whether to keep it as it was here with a bit of an unfinished look as it did look quite well but with a weakness for finishing a painting I continued to paint in the chest and shoulders.

 

 

 

 

Finishing the Painting

Finishing the Painting

This was where the OCD kicked in. With  the turquoise curtains behind me to the right and turquoise on the tattoo on my right (left) arm I felt like there needed to be something on the left to balance it up.

Frida Kahlo had her monkeys and I had geckos scurrying around everywhere reminding me everyday for 16 years that I was far away from home, so what better than to paint one of these little buggers perched on my shoulder with the same here to here grin.

 

 

I looked for photos of Tokay Geckos on an image search and found one in the perfect pose. Tokay geckos here are usually turquoise and red and so I found a gecko in the right pose to go onto my shoulder and changed the colours and added the right amount of shadow.

The gecko on the shoulder added more character to the painting and actually looked like it could have been sitting there while I was painting or at least taking the photo.

finished painting

finished painting

My thoughts on this project

Second Attempt at Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Self portrait

I feel I let myself down here. Although the second attempt at the self portrait turned out, I think, really well, I really need a lot more practice at this. My hopes were to create a self portrait at an angle and then eventually add props such as an easel, paint brush, etc. In the end I ended up painting the way I felt comfortable when I should have been pushing myself more and doing more experimenting.

 

 

 

12 - Adding More Shadow and Complimentary Colour

Head and Shoulders Portrait

Head and Shoulders Portrait

I do like this and I continued to experiment through the exercise with the things that I had learnt through the course, especially with use of colour.

I think the background could have been better, maybe more natural with cloud formations or even a lighter colour such as cream to make the tones more subtle.

 

 

 

17 Finished Painting

Creating Mood and Atmosphere

Creating Mood and Atmosphere

I was very spontaneous with this painting but to me it just looks too organised. I think this all comes back round to my weakness of wanting to create a finished piece. This is an habit that I really have to break.

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

The painting that I am most happy with here is the final piece in this last exercise, I really do think it is my best painting so far. Although I worked from a photo kit captured how I felt while I was painting it rather than how I looked in the photo, if that makes sense,

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.