My Step-daughter’s eldest boy was distinctly despondent that I’d painted his baby brother’s portrait before doing one of him – so I’ve taken the step towards getting back in his favour – although I doubt a four-year-old would appreciate the loose painting technique used here.
An initial sketch (see bottom of page) is usually best practice to familiarise myself with the features of the subject.
In order to obtain some kind of likeness to the subject, the first details of my focus are always the eyes, lips and nose, painted with fine brushes.
Squinty eyes and flat brushes were used to block in the darkest values, using plenty of water. Once dry, the lighter washes were blocked in, leaving the lightest areas untouched.
Finally, using a higher ratio of pigment to water, I went back to re-establish some of the darkest values. I probably shouldn’t divulge the fact that his face was very red in the photograph due to a recent bout of tears, abruptly halted with the appearance of a chocolate pudding.
The resemblance isn’t quite as close as aimed for, so aspiring to meet with the high expectations of a four-year-old lad is sufficient motivation to do it one more time. Watch this space.
So six months of chugging away for my Zazzle store has felt mind-numbingly tedious. Not that the actual designing is boring, more the (necessary) cross-media broadcasting that accompanies each and every single item.
Anyway, the possibility of emigrating to sunny Portugal now totally preoccupies me. I’ve attended overseas property exhibitions, examined online, plots of land for sale, researched property purchasing regulations and everything about private swimming pools – it’s addictive and so much fun! If this does happen, it won’t be until 2018 after my son complete his university studies.
I’m itching to paint and draw again. At the risk of being boring, I’m considering revisiting an image of my youngest step-daughter, the composition of which, inexplicably, still stimulates my creativity. Already drawn in pencil and ink, painted with watercolour – twice. This time I plan using a mixture of media and may give pastels a go.
Here to prove that I haven’t totally given up, is the ink version, but this time with some minor digital modifications.
“I sit before flowers, hoping they will train me in the art of opening up,”
So says modern poet Shane Koyczan.
For five days I’ve been sitting in front of “a host, of golden daffodils” willing them to train me in the art of capturing their glory in watercolours.
“I gazed-and gazed” but found that yellow on yellow is really difficult! Keep it loose and there’s not enough definition – add detail and it looks overworked. Whilst the paint was still wet I went back in with a watercolour crayon which seeemed to work fairly well. Oh and on the vase I used a white wax crayon to (kind of) define the water line.
Although after reading the very talented artist Kate Osborne’s excellent post on “Cropping” I tried this….
…but decided that this one is probably best? Actually, surprisingly, cropping is also more difficult than I assumed it would be.
Frustration aside, I enjoyed using my paints again – a necessary change from designing for my ** Zazzle store.
Ever the optimist, I plan doing some cutsie watercolours of themes suitable for children, which eill be incorporated into designs for greeting cards and various other items…you guessed…for my ** Zazzle store!
“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
With apologies to William Wordsworth.
** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017
You rarely get what you expect in life and despite it being almost Christmas you won’t see a stunningly beautiful festive painting as done by Lesley White nor this marvelous Thanksgiving watercolour by Carol King. But I do promise not to whine this time.
Anyone who kindly reads my witterings know that the process of setting up my online shop has wilted the neurons in my feeble brain. (Almost whined there.) The remedy? A first venture into abstract
doodling mark making, some of which is influenced by images seen on the internet.
Abstract art isn’t supposed to look like anything, which is immediately freeing. It can be whatever you make of it – or whatever you don’t make of it.
With ink and watercolour paints, I soon became totally immersed in making marks and shapes for their own sake, which was most gratifying. Time zipped by.
Making repetitive gestures was both relaxing and absorbing; sometimes it felt almost unconscious as I tried not to exert too much control.
And yes, these images will be put to use in my ** Zazzle Store.
I’m considering running another site purely for commercial posts. Maybe next year.
Until then, a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me by stopping to look or comment and I sincerely do wish you all a very merry festive holiday.
** I closed my Zazzle shop in March 2017.
It may be possible to detect a whiff of satisfaction since I’ve muffled that chattering inner critical voice.
I’ve realised that in order to appreciate my own work it is imperative that I wait a few days after completion to be able to stand back and look at it with fresh eyes…rather like getting used to a new haircut.
The fear of using watercolours is diminishing. First using only transparent pigments mixed with plenty of water enables me to lightly ‘map out’ the image. It allows for painting as many layers as I need to build up the impression of dimension.
Flat brushes instead of round were used in an attempt to introduce spontaneity, with charcoal and pastels for intensity.
I’m persevering with the same subject as before, my youngest step-daughter, Ruth.
- The ink version was all about the lines; a clean, graphic quality being appropriate.
- Although not exactly a whimper of a painting, I abandoned the watercolour portrait because, despite scribbling on it with pastels, it still felt too flat, rigid-as-a-stick and the edges were too similar. It didn’t excite me – it lacked those extra ingredients of chaos and energy that I respond to and there was none of the fluidity that only watercolour can deliver.
With this simplified version, the ‘unfinished’ appearance is entirely intentional (assume your “Oh come OFF it” face here).
Pablo Picasso described art as the eliminiation of the unnecessary and Claude Debussy stated that “music is the space between the notes”.
Simplify, simplify, simplify! Do more with less!
In this vein, I tried to embrace the blank spaces and make each mark count, obtaining a perfect image being less important than how the paint was applied. And what was left out. Yes, you guessed it, I’m making it up as I go along here.
This painting feels complete to me. And there are edges; some soft, some sharp and I may have even managed to lose some!
In keeping with the minimalist theme, I’ll end here and see myself out.
Between you and me, I secretly hoped the course would immediately turn me into a master portrait painter, that there’d be an orchestra playing in the background as I twirled around in front of you with my masterpiece in one hand, paintbrush in the other. Patently, it’s very much a learning process and I concluded that painting layer upon layer of glazes isn’t quite ‘me’, preferring spontaneity and risk-taking for a light, fresh, painterly finish….Oh all right then, it was bloody difficult and I simply don’t have the patience so I gave up!
I did learn heaps of valuable techniques, not least how to paint with a brush in each hand – and my confidence has definitely grown, but clearly, dilligent practise is required.
It was interesting to learn that in all his work, whether portraiture, still life or landscape, Mario uses the Grisaille method of painting – a monochromatic under-painting, which is a useful and accurate process that establishes a map of the tonal values prior to adding colour and helps create the illusion of depth and form.
After deciding not to complete the painting, I had some fun with it using charcoal and pastels, then decided to put it up here anyway, maybe even start a trend for showing failed works?
Look out for a crazy grinning woman prancing madly around an easel waving her paint brushes with quite a lot of attitude – that loon would be me.
Ah the hell with it….Cue orchestra!
My head frequently bubbles with detailed artistic ideas, but actually accomplishing them isn’t always easy.
I’d like to create a series of paintings portraying likenesses of people I know, with their facial features and hands taking prominence.
You may wonder why I don’t simply call them “portraits”. Well, have you ever tried to render the essence of an individual onto paper or canvas? Obtaining a true recognisable likeness is staggeringly difficult. Formidable, even. Not least because the sitter is unlikely to view themselves in the same way that the artist does and there are always critics ready to pile huge lumps of vitriol onto the artist.
Clueless but undaunted, the first step was taken; I found a photograph that makes me want to to dust off my paints.
This preliminary ink drawing was to make me look hard at her features to familiarise myself with depicting them – also to decide which elements of the photograph to include and which to leave out in the composition.
My lofty aspiration is to somehow infuse the painting with more personality than the merely flat one dimensional drawing (although I do quite like flat images). To cultivate an intimacy that goes deeper than a mere likeness. Ideally I hope to reveal something of what goes on behind her eyes.
If I manage to fulfil my heady blur of ambitious imagined plans, the next post should be the painting. Any resemblance to the sitter will be an indescribable relief, but mostly I’m just happy to be doing some art again!
Now if someone could just sprinkle some fairy dust onto my paint brushes…..
And so as Christmas creaks into view, with the nation reaching wearily for its winter woolies once again, lo – behold my latest offering before I totally disappear up my own festive fundament.
- my pigments are not as translucent as those of the tutor
- squinting to properly see tone, light, shadow and reflected light
- identifying warm and cool colours
- preparation – pre-mix enough paints
- glazing – how graduated washes create many layers – first time using a mop brush
- establishing soft and hard edges
- lifting off damp as well as dried pigment
- ability to look at watercolour paintings by other artists and decipher which technical aspects were probably used
I enjoyed this online course so much.
Herewith the various stages showing the process…
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night. Rum pum pum pum!
I won’t lie. Sometimes not very much art happens. (What do you mean, you noticed?)
Yes, it’s been a while but here I am again – and thanks to this great online watercolour portrait tutorial I’m getting a kick out of painting again.
This image is merely an exercise in tonal values which I found compelling. Agreed, it is undoubtedly overworked for what is supposed to be a simple study.
I find the tutor, Matt Rota, to be exceptional and easy to understand. I haven’t even started the final portrait yet and I already feel I’ve learned more in a couple of hours watching his tutorials than ever before.
I’d forgotten what it’s like to be this motivated and giddy about painting…I feel like I could throw off sparks from my fingertips. A new phase in my creativity is opening up and finally giving it some direction. Seriously, I don’t know if I can take much more excitement!
Despite your suspicions, I’m not getting paid to drool enthusiastically about this course.
I hope this finds you dry. I don’t mean that in an impolite way, it’s just that I live in the new monsoon kingdom of England where pretty much everything is soggy and damp at the moment.
In other news, I’ve started painting again…somebody alert the media!!!
The above two initial attempts at painting this friend of my son left me severely disheartened and frustrated by my dearth of technical skills. At the end of the process I’d inevitably do something to ruin it. Without formal training, making progress is difficult but, as someone once said; “Practice is the best of all instructors” so I’ve stopped sulking and here I am again.
Watercolour is one of the most challenging of painting mediums in that it is unpredictable. The lack of control simultaneously thrills me and scares the pants off me. Oh yes, I know how to have fun.
The following two studies taught me much about paint manipulation. When attempting spontaneity and allowing the paint to do its own thing, it helps to be prepared for any eventuality. Using a spray water bottle and kitchen paper allows for more control, as do loud yelps and sharp intakes of breath, although this does tend to startle the other people who live here.
With this first attempt, the darkest colour was painted first and when completely dry, lighter, transparent colours were glazed over. This was in response to being educated by my friend Carol King on a fascinating process called Brunaille, except that this is in the wrong context and I used blue instead of brown. It was useful in helping me to appreciate the values of light and shadow.
The early stages look better than the finished version – the scanner makes it appear far muddier than the original and the poor girl appears to be in dire need of a shave.The second study below didn’t scan well either (honestly, not an excuse) – it is frankly clownish.Back to the drawing board. I plan to paint numerous versions and strive to feel comfortable about giving a picture to the model; I can’t seem to quite ‘capture’ her.
Now if only I could channel my inner critic to help me perceive at what point to put the brush down and step away from the painting! Less is more, stupid! So stop it. I know you too are guilty of this.
You’re so glad you read this blog post, aren’t you? Admit it; I have enriched your life.
I thought that would get your attention!
After some initial nerves I decided to simply have fun, especially as I was wearing my lucky Wonder Woman pants. Technically, there is room for improvement, this I know. I’m trying to disciplin myself to really SEE and make my hand draw what I see.
The scanning isn’t up to much but here is one of my ten minute study plus a twenty minute effort in watercolour and ink.
This little watercolour painting was my attempt at humour. It was a birthday gift for my youngest step-daughter who runs her own personal training business.
After the picture was left to dry on a table in another room I forgot all about it until I overheard two teenage friends of my son talking and realised they were discussing it. One lad obviously didn’t get the joke as the other said “That’s a trainer, see? And it’s making personal remarks to the weights – the trainer is telling the weights that they’re dumb”. He still didn’t really understand it.
So I thought it would be prudent to include his explanation just in case my sense of humour is less quirky than I’d imagined and is far more strange than is conventional.