Updated: Feb 17
A 6 month update is a massive time however patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet. To organise myself a little for the sake of my readers I may divide these updates into a few posts. Following up on my September 2019 term we left off with the beginning stages of some projects I was working on. Here's how they came out. (These are all paintings from September)
I was pleased with my portrait of the model Jack Ford for a few reasons. The first being the time I had. This portrait was 2 sessions however the first session I had I missed about an hour and a half out of a 3 hour session. The rain and traffic was crazy that day and being a bit of an anxious person anyway this kind of frazzled me. I am usually never ever late so when I am thrown off my game a little it unnerves me. Another thing to note is that models of course get breaks every 20 minutes and a longer break after an hour and a half so all these breaks generally add up and end up cutting into more of the time you have to paint. You can check the previous post to see how I started off this grisaille of Jack. There were a few anatomy issues I had in the first drawing however I knew I'd be able to save it in the next 3 hour session. Things to note with this portrait. I was going for a dreamy smoky feeling. I wanted the portrait to look like it was a face merging through the shadows and was mostly inspired by the works of Eugène Carrière, a wonderful French painter who painted dreamy and moodiness in his work. The only thing I wish I would have done for this painting would be to brighten the lights much much more around the forehead.
Below are some examples of Eugène Carrière's work I was inspired by. I hope the similarity in inspiration and my work is clear.
In still Life class I spent some time working on a few small projects, leaning to render different materials. One of my tasks was to paint metal and porcelain. One of my personal projects is to always try and work on backgrounds and make them look like atmosphere. I attempted That with this piece however is got a little dense with paint in some areas. I treat this as learning curb and move on. I am still very pleased with this piece.
I think going off the theme of dreamy and surreal I came up with this concept for my four week project. I wanted to paint a bird sitting on a beautiful shell. One of my teachers suggested making it look like the bird was just floating in atmosphere so that's what I went with on this piece. This piece was SUPER difficult because the values we very close together but it had many shifits in colour. I explain this a little further in my '3 year progression' post where I talk about a change in chroma instead of a change in value. This painting is still technically unfinished however we ran out of time and it's at a good place for me to be able to share. I used a combination of very thick paint and dryly dragging the paint to create different textures to render up this painting.
Figure has always been one of my biggest weaknesses, however over the years I have very slowly creeped up to a comfortable level with them. Although painting and modeling them is still a challenge for me I find it's getting a little more digestible now. Below is a 3 weeks study of a life model done in charcoal. I shall continue to grow and become comfortable with figure. Of course in the grand scheme of things nudes are not a huge market in classical art. Not many people are looking to purchase nudes. HOWEVER as an artist it's important to know anatomy and how it works under clothes so that when they are dressed we can make sense of the anatomy underneath. So studying the form bare is important.
10 week portrait
This 10 week portrait was a major challenge. I was so hard to paint the ruffle collar and it definitely went through a series of changes over the course of 10 weeks. I decided that the best way to approach the collar was to go on with very thick globs of paint in the correct values. This is called impasto. I managed to achieve a skin like glow on her face as well which I was pleased with. I am a sucker for this greenish umbery sort of background and added that as well in the background to create a sense of atmosphere. The skin on her face is composed of various different shades of lilacs and blues, umbers and ochers which gave it dimension and a beautiful glow. One of the biggest challenges of this painting was the set up. Friday's are the days were my class is a little more advanced than working in studio lighting. We work in a large studio with a north facing sun roof and in natural light. Of course since this was painted in September-December inevitably by around 3 o'clock the sun would go and it was basically impossible to paint after then. Not only does the natural light change on the face but it also makes it impossible to see your canvas and what you're doing. However we trucked through and I am now left with this, it isn't entirely what I wanted with my painting however I am very pleased with it!
HALF TERM BREAK
This is the hidden bonus track of this record. Over half term we had an awesome artist by the name of Jill Hooper visit us and the school, the school hired a few models for us to paint. These were fairly quick paintings in natural lighting which wasn't always the best in the winter months. These were private sessions for just the teachers at the atelier and a great opportunity to work with Jill and watch her process. Although these aren't the best paintings I have ever done it's always good to just get your paints out and try stuff. I believe every portrait gets me incrementally closer to what I want to achieve with mixing skin tones. I also did an Anders Zorn quick study to help me with mixing skin tones since I feel in portrait this is my biggest weakness.
Below are compilation of a few unfinished portraits done over half term break focusing on form and painting skin more than anything else. A valuable exercise and always good to be able to practice from life and not photos!