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.
It’s been such a joy painting this adorable face – he made me smile throughout the process.
Unfortunately, despite visiting two different scanning shops and taking many, many shots over three days, this woefully poor photo is the best image I got, which doesn’t do it justice.
As predicted, the watercolour study has evolved to become the final piece; smaller portraits have their merit and I’m quite satisfied with the result.
A light touch and a soft palette of transparent colours was necessary to reproduce that wonderfully delicate freshness of the little man’s flawless, peachy-soft baby skin. Greatly diluted, these watery colours were carefully built up in layers until I felt I’d ‘captured’ him enough to please his parents.
Despite intending to paint loosely, unless the main features are detailed, it’s difficult to achieve a proper likeness of the subject. In an attempt to make it more ‘painterly’ some splashes were added and I purposefully tried to fade out at the edges so that he wasn’t overwhelmed by the business of his clothing. I do like a slightly unfinished painting, but on this occasion, it was mostly due to the fear of messing it up with overworking.
Now all I need is to stop “Baby face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face” from playing on a continuous loop in my head.
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.
Here’s the best one out of VERY many attempts.
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
While you’re here I may as well rid my heaving bosom of something that still has me simultaneously wincing and fuming.
A recent television program documented preparations for an exhibition at the Leopold Museum in Vienna where some witless noodle made the sorry decision to show self-absorbed Tracey Emin’s gratuitous tosh alongside my favourite artist, Egon Scheile (cue audible ey-roll). Really? You just couldn’t make it up. It was embarrassing.
Emin, as inebriated by her own suppurating ego as by the liquor she guzzles, is so trapped by her urge to shock that the outrage she strives for has become a cliché. Her teeth-suckingly offensive ‘work’ has no correlation to art and I freely throw prejudicial cups of tea in the direction of those who confuse art with self-publication.
It’s hard to believe that people pay to stare at this excruciatingly crude fakery and that those who part with vast sums of money to own this pointless, ugly stuff are educated people. The joke is on them. It is freak art masquerading as originality. Self-indulgent clap-trap and most of us have her sussed.
You can probably tell that I consider Emin and her ilk to have all the appeal of a flatulent dog in a lift.
I don’t have her millions nor her obtuse, fawning devotees, but I am confident that whatever I paint will always have more merit than anything Tracely Emin can do.
My husband is right – I do morph into curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew on this subject.
As an antidote to all that negativity – inspired by flower paintings by artist friends who make it look much easier than it is – herewith some sketches where I trusted the paint and allowed the water to do the work. Marks were also made using the brush handle.
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.
This is not one of those pointless new year resolutions, but, being my first post of 2015 it’s a chance for a fresh start.
I’m determined to do much more art this year.
These sketches of my son’s fist are another warm-up exercise.
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.