• Annam

Portrait Progression

This term (7th September - 4th December) although I did not take any portrait classes I still wanted to dedicate time to painting portraits in school so I would not regress. I worked on a few during this time as well as many cast demonstrations for my students which helped. It has been a turmotous term with many ups and downs because of the virus however I tried to maintain focus and self motivation.


I tried to experiment with different methods and push myself in different ways. Colour mixing is always an issue I felt that held me back with portraits but also drawing of course. Therefore I tried to do it all within these 2 months, here are a few I worked on from life and from photos. These aren't all the portraits I worked on this term but a select few. I will try and post them in chronological order.


After visiting a super inspiring Rembrandt exhibition I wanted to try a self portrait in his style/lighting. Although the drawing aspect of these portraits were unsuccessful it was also nice to just paint on a really tiny scale.


Starting from the left side was my first attempt, unhappy with the drawing I gave it another shot and still didn't quite get it.





Showing the scale of the paintings










I gave it another shot with a different pose and lighting and felt a little more successful than the first two, it's also a little bigger coming in at 6x8 in size. The first two were around 3 inches.




















Jumping way forward to the end of term for a min I started a long project which wasn't exactly a portrait but it seems fitting to add it here. It was a 10 week project, working on it once a week for 2 and a half hours a session. I painted the main boxer, our lovely model Jatinder (from life) and the rest of the figures in the back from various different painting references of different boxers. This was actually quite useful as a project because I had to make all of the figures look like they were apart of the painting but also make sense lighting wise. Sorry about the glare.


I worked a lot looser than I normally like to paint and I don't think it's entirely in my own style but I learnt LOADS from this and after having spent so much time on it I think it deserves its own spot light. This is why I placed this portrait here as it's a slow progression through the 10 weeks of term and this is the final result.


Stepping back into the chronological sequence I wanted to try glazing out and used two different methods with glazing. The first one I started with a dull flesh tone and a fairly rendered underpainting.




With the final piece on the right you can see how I glazed (thin washes of paint diluted with glazing medium) warmer. This was really fun as a project and I used a reference photo for this one. Although the original photo of the female was not a nurse I wanted to make her into one, I also gold gilded the cross on her outfit. This was another 6x8 portrait done in my own time.


After having a few minor complications with our figure model hurting himself we were unable to continue a 10 week figure painting we had planned of him. This however worked out nice for me as I wanted to spend more time on portraits. So for out next model we had in I chose to do a portrait of him. I started off extremely bad as I decided to use a new paint (italian green umber) as the wash for my canvas but the paint texture is so slippery that I was unable to draw or apply any other paint onto of it after. I struggled to get his drawing right in the first session and felt like I was fighting the canvas the entire time. I has 4 sessions on this portrait and in the end I was somewhat pleased with the paint handling of this portrait but not the drawing.

Again working a lot looser than I normally work but I was pleased with the modeling in this portrait. I wanted to get a nice glow of light on his nose and forehead which in the end I think I got. I slapped on a lot of very thick impasto on his forehead and a bit on the nose to give them a nice texture. That Rembrandt exhibition has been fresh in my mind all term and I tried to use some of his choices in my portraits. The shoulders I left fairly unpainted as I thought it didn't necessarily need to be finished. Definitely not what Rembrandt would do.

Mid way through the term we had a lovely artist visit us from the US and a small group of us formed a little after school sketch club where we paint each other for 30 minutes each. I spent 2 sessions on the following paintings and speed painted like mad. Painting a portrait in an hour is INSANE but it was awesome to just go in super direct and try and achieve as much as I could for 30 mins at a time.

The end results...not too shabby.



Since one of our models tested positive for Corvid-19 everyone in contact with her in her classes had to self isolate including the teachers of course. Luckily since I was not in any of her classes I did not have to isolate. This did mean I had to cover one of the teachers for their portrait class as I taught my own class simultaneously. We had Arnold again as the model whom I had painted earlier. Since I was running back and forth in between the two classes I wanted to challenge myself and do a tiny portrait (showboating) I think I might have had a little over an hour on this as my time was split between teaching and breaks and so on. The hour long portrait sessions came in really handy with this one.


Haha, handy. Get it? whatever I just realised that lame joke.


SO, the last day of term after painting our boxer for 9 weeks and I felt like I didn't know how to improve it and progress it anymore (I am sure there was loads I could do but given the time it was difficult to achieve) I decided to do another mini.








It doesn't look like Jatinder at all but I was sitting on a drawing bench ( low angle) while painting this which is always a little tricker as you cannot continually step back to check your errors. We digress.








Back to glazing. I started off this time with a very lightly rendered underpainting and left the skin "bare" to glaze the fleshtones on top. This is currently incomplete but I wanted to post the progress. I'd like to try and glaze some blues and greens into her skin when it's dry and see how Lapis looks on top of skin. I also might gold gild her hoop earring, I will post the final results when it's done. Learning to glaze in different methods has been a great way to see where, why when and how I would use it.

Finally we end on my little babaganoush Harley. My bestie that kingly filled in for one of our models and portrait sat for us for 2 sessions. Although It was only supposed to be one I was so glad we asked her to come back again to do another session for the catch up class. With all the fuel of speed painting under my belt, tiny portrait challenges and painting from drawing benches I was ready for this. Of course feeling the pressure of wanting to do this one portrait justice I tried to do my best. The first session I knew I had some drawing issues however I was pleased with how fast I generally got her shapes down and applied colour. This gave me a nice base to work off for the next session. For the next session and with a fresh eye I was able to fix these shapes and add more detail. I am annoyed I placed her nose slightly too high but I am still happy with how it came out. With only 5 hours stretched into 2 sessions I think I did alright. I wish I could have kept it for myself but her Grandma wanted it so I was more than happy to let her have it.



This is the best photo I could take of it before I gave it away. The glare from the wet paint doesn't help sadly. That italian green umber did come back though and I once again used it as a wash for the background. This time I used it on the second session as a thin wash and it worked out perfectly. I think that's definitely going to be the way I choose to use this colour now and never painting on it directly wet on wet. All the lessons over the term felt like they got poured into this portrait as well as previous ones from the years. I wanted to paint the planes of face directly with subtle shifts of colour, I was also sitting on a drawing bench again so the low angle was tricky to get hence the short nose. Rendering Jatinders clothes in the boxer painting was useful for this one as well. I painted her tank top very loosely but I like it like that with a bit of the background peaking through.

Next term will be my first time teaching portrait painting so I think I maybe ready for it now. With a few more experiments under my belt, consistently working on improving my drawings and doing more studies from life and my own time I think I can have a fairly successful term from January. Fingers crossed.

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