Tag Archives: portrait

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 1 – Research Point – Artists’ Self Portraits

Rembrandt

The dozens of self-portraits by Rembrandt were an important part of his oeuvre as a painter. Rembrandt created nearly one hundred self-portraits during his lifetime including approximately fifty paintings, thirty-two etchings and seven drawings. – Wikipedia

Rembrandt self-portrait 1629

Rembrandt self-portrait 1629

Rembrandt’s  self portraits create a visual diary of his aging and progress as an artist over a 40 year period. In these self portraits he managed to capture various facial expressions and it is clear that many of his self portrait drawings were studies in capturing facial expressions for his paintings such as the painting seen here which he painted aged 23.

I can only comment on what I see in this photograph of the painting but to me it seems like he has painted this with almost blur detail as to depict not just facial expression but the movement of his head while laughing. The slight halo around his head and shoulders helps to portray this movement. Everything about this painting works, he wants to look jolly and he does

Gustave’ Courbet

Self-Portrait by Gustave Courbet a Desperate Man 1843–45

Self-Portrait by Gustave Courbet a Desperate Man 1843–45

Gustave’ Courbet’s brilliant self portrait ‘a Desperate Man 1843 is painted with almost photo-realism. In this painting he has managed to capture not just worrying facial expressions which is the theme of the painting but an energy. The light and shade in the folds of his shirt gives the painting even more life.

In this painting as with Rembrandt’s self portrait above the artist uses soft skin tones for the face but his emphasis on his red cheeks brings real emotion to the painting.

The title says desperation but with  the facial expressions and the position of his hands that seem to be going through his hair this could be mistaken for fear.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh Self-Portrait 1889

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait 1889

Van Gogh is an artist who is well-known for his self portraits. Although painted in different moods, using different techniques and painted in  several different styles most of these resemble each other giving us a good idea of what the artist looks like or what he saw himself as. There are a few photos on the internet which people claim to be of the artist at different stages of his life although there is doubt about if they are really him is recognizable to us through his self portraits.

These paintings portray the artist in different hats, different clothes, with a pipe in his mouth, bandaged ear and even through some of his personal items without him being in the painting.

Van Gogh seems to paint his self in a fairly aggressive style, with thick paint and lively brush strokes, most of which to me seem like he painted them in an agitated manner, although colours and composition were clearly thought out.

Self-Portrait 1889 above was the one that stood out as I was going through the images of van Gogh self portraits, I try not to glance at SP with Bandaged Ear anymore, it’s like the boring part of a movie that you skip through to get to the good bit.

In the painting above like most of his paintings he portrays himself an artist I don’t kow what kind of an impression he tried to convey but serious, artist in thought is the impression we get or is it just because we know van Gogh?

Gauguin Portrait of van Gogh

Gauguin Portrait of van Gogh

Through this portrait of van Gogh by friend Paul Gauguin we get a chance to look at the artist through someone else’s eyes. In this painting Gauguin depicts him painting one of his famous sunflower paintings wearing a jacket with lined lapel that he can be seen wearing in his self portrait Spring 1887. The painting by Gauguin is painted at an angle that looks to be slightly from above as though Gauguin was standing or on a higher chair than his friend.

The painting does resemble van Gogh because we know it’s him and he’s painting sunflowers, however if the painting was cropped to just his face and I was seeing this image for the first time it would be pretty difficult for me to guess it is the famous Dutch painter.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso Self-Portrait Negro Period 1906

Pablo Picasso Self-Portrait Negro Period 1906

Pablo Picasso like van Gogh and Rembrandt is an artist famous for his numerous self portraits. These self portraits were painted in different styles throughout the different periods of Picasso’s work. When I first saw this painting a while back searching for something completely different I guessed it was a Self Portrait by Pablo Picasso and then checked straight away to see if he was of mixed race typing in the words ‘Pablo Picasso’ and ‘Negro’, the latter being the first word that came to mind when I saw this painting.

I found out that the artist had an African Period which lasted from 1906-1909 and in this self portrait he seemed to be influenced by the masks and sculpture that influenced the rest of his paintings during this period. He was experimenting and I’m sure it’s not just me who sees this when we look at the painting. It’s hard to put a finger on the technique he used here, background first? Drawn last?

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon Three Studies for a Self-Portrait 1979-80

Francis Bacon Three Studies for a Self-Portrait 1979-80

Francis Bacon painted his pictures ‘as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail leaving its trail of the human presence… as a snail leaves its slime’ – Francis bacon. This can be seen in his self portraits. Unlike van Gogh we know what Francis Bacon looked like as there are many photographs of the artist and so looking at the three studies for a self portrait we can see some resemblance to the artist in all of the three studies such as receding hairline, parts of the nose and jaw and he has managed to keep these resemblances even after mutilating himself in the artist’s familiar painting style.

Lucian Freud Portrait of Francis Bacon 1952

Lucian Freud Portrait of Francis Bacon 1952

In Lucian Freud’s depiction of Francis Bacon painted in Freud’s very familiar style in which he uses a blocking-in technique to give the face great tonal qualities. Although I recognize  the features such as the deep set eyes, prominent eyelids, rings around the eyes and the shape of the face, together the portrait is not 100% recognisable as Bacon. Is that Just me, or do others see it the way I do?

 

 

 

 

Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud Reflection -Self Portrait 1985

Lucian Freud Reflection -Self Portrait 1985

I really love Freud’s style though, his portraits have what i would describe as heavy, rubber-like features. He’s a fairly new artist to me as I only discovered him during my drawing course but I wish I had discovered him sooner. Like most o his paintings his features in his self-portrait are also heavy and rubbery helped along by the heavy brush and impasto technique that he uses in this and most of his other portraits

 

 

 

Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud

Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud

 

In the ‘Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud’ right, Francis Bacon’s portrait of the artist in Bacon’t unmistakable style looks as though he has literally had his face smashed in with a paving maul, in his own words “If they were not my friends, I could not do such violence to them.”

An ear and a nose are the only features here that are recognisable but I think what he was trying to do in his portraits of others is to push the boundaries as far away as possible from the subject to do as much ‘violence’ to their features as possible while still keeping them recognisable to him.

How he got to these disfigured shapes, I can only guess that he daubed large amounts of paint on the canvas in a compact area and then spread it outwards like stretching Plasticine or Dough or that’s how they look.