Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Portrait of Izzy

I started this portrait of Izzy a good few months ago. Probably closer to a year ago. I enjoyed working on it very much but never got round to finishing it until now.

This was the first of my portraits painted under Dee Donaldson's profoundly discerning eye, expertise and honed intuition.

First steps activating the canvas and getting the image on using, for want of a better way of putting it, the underlying shadow colour.

Having mixed a selection of mid tone colours the next step was to start blocking in the basic areas. She's looking pretty gruesome.

Decided at this stage to darken a fair bit of the background. To get rid of some of the lighter toned pink so that I could get a more accurate idea of what the facial tones were looking like against the dark background. Also at this stage the greens I was seeing in the reference were looking rather strong against it's complimentary pink.

I carried on for a good while adding more tonal and colour shifts whilst focusing always on form, accurate placement of the features and mark making. I choose not to used a grid only because I enjoy the challenge of placing the features accurately using only my eye. Scary how often I get this so wrong at first. I always find it fascinating how the brain gets in the way and guides me in the wrong direction. It often stops me from really seeing. I also paint upside down a great deal as this helps me focus on shapes, tonal shifts, colour, angles etc in the reference. This way I am not painting a face. Rather a  relationship between all these elements.

This is where I left the painting for a few months.

 To re engage with this painting was quite a challenge so I decided at once to get rid of the pink in the background as I had been holding on to the deliciousness of the drips on the right hand side. I keep holding onto the notion that one has to be prepared to get rid of the favourite part of the painting. So I did and then re connected by mixing colour. I always connect to my reference well by studying and mixing the colours I see. Generally I find I need to cross pollinate later both colour wise and tonally but at least I have a good selection of colours to start with. Off I go, remembering to not be precious and to dare work on the areas I am fond of. I am reminded that I can always pull it back if I lose it. Just need trust and patience. Ooh and quality of attention.

So this, above, is where I was when I went for my weekly painting class this morning. Sorry Roz, it needs more. Dee showed me some examples of beautifully executed portraits with areas of delicious thick impasto paint which just gave the painting that extra life and tactility. Want some of that.

Again, I was nervous to touch what I had done in the fear that I would muck it up. Somewhere that lack of faith in myself that I would be able to pull it back if I went 'wrong'. I am learning to fly in the face of this fear because it is just so utterly debilitating and stops whatever progress I hope to make.

Very grateful for being pushed like this. Happy and very grateful.