Self-Portrait Complete

August 24, 2019

As always, the caveat is, it’s done for now.  I’m happy with it, in fact, I’m so happy with it I want it in MY ROOM.  I seem to have this belief that I can’t really paint people well, and then I’m surprised when I do.  Hell, I’m surprised when they are recognizable!  *Shakes my head…*  Sometimes the inside of my head is no place to be.

Have I been comparing my work to other artists’?  Yes.  Sigh.
Does my art continue to improve?  Yes!
Do people enjoy my work?  Yes!
Do I still love what I do?  Yes!
Then I’m on the right track!

One of my goals for this blog is to point out that becoming an artist, frankly becoming anything, isn’t a straight line.  I’ve seen so many blogs where everything is sweetness and light, and everything moves along swimmingly according to the “Master Plan.”  This certainly hasn’t been my experience, and it is how we handle these challenges that make us who we are.

Most of my paintings feel like ongoing problem-solving sessions.  The last thing I do each day is to create a punch list of what I want to accomplish the next time I sit down to work on it.  Creating this list gives me a good starting point.  This continues to happen until I near the end of the process and THAT is when I usually start to feel the energy of what a painting can become.  My teacher, Rose Adare, hits this point before she even puts a mark on the canvas.  (That’s why SHE’s the teacher!)  I’ve only managed that a few times so far, and each time resulted in a spectacular piece.

It is important to become aware of what your process is.  Everyone has rituals that they go through as they work on something.  Become aware of your self-talk and recognize what you are saying to yourself.  Find a way to check criticism, self-doubt, and judgment at the door.  All that negativity does is make the process take longer to accomplish something that was going to happen anyway.  This painting took at least twice as long as it should have because of all the negative self-talk I was dealing with.  In some ways, it is a reverse Dorian Gray.  All the angst, frustration and judgement went into this painting and came out as a sense of peace.  It was worth the journey!

Weeks 10 – 12 Portraits Week 1

This task threw me for days. I doubted myself. I doubted that I could do it. I wouldn’t even start for the fear. Isn’t that silly? Now I think it is, but then, well, I guess I just wasn’t thinking. I was feeling and I let it get the better of me for a while.

We had to choose an image to work from in class and to do a self-portrait looking in a mirror. Here’s what I came up with:

I’ll tell you right now, glasses are a bear. I’ll remember that for the future! I don’t know who this gentleman is, I just loved the picture.

It took me a while to find a pose of myself that I was comfortable with. I’ll admit it, I’m vain.

The first step is the drawing, and then stepping away to come back and find any errors that have to be corrected before the drawing is “fixed” to the canvas. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to spray the drawing with a fixative such as Krylon Workable Fixatif. I prefer the next method. Rose showed us that you can also fix a drawing by painting over it with thinned paint and wiping some of it off. This leaves your painting tinted with an undertone, which can be very helpful if it is one of the skin tone colors. From there, you can wipe-out highlights (as long as you do it before the paint dries) and that gives you the start of your painting. Here’s an example of that on my self-portrait.

Here is the start of my other painting. Drawing is in place and I’m starting with color. I wasn’t happy with where this was going, so I went in a different direction, putting in a basic background first. That allowed me to better judge my colors. Then I started putting in some of the darks and the whole thing began to make better sense.

My next post will be about the Zorn palette, which is all I’m using to do these portraits. This is a combination of Titanium White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ocre, and Cadmium Red.