I have kept journals for 9 years and so its surprising that I should only discover blogging as a new format of journal writing. It's about time I embrace it and see if its as fun.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Life drawing taught me something

A couple of years ago the idea that I might be painting portraits would have astounded me. I studied life drawing in college for 2 years and I hated it. Don't get me wrong its all valuable experience, but being cooped up in a small room with 20 other students, trying to fight to get a donkey easel (they were more comfortable) was not my idea of fun. Painting from a photograph is so much more relaxing, you can take as long as you want, the subject won't move and you can sit at your computer desk checking your Facebook at the same time. Did I mention how much I enjoy painting now? I started this painting for my fiance's Dad who had his 52nd birthday recently. I had a feeling this might be a difficult photograph to paint, I've never been fantastic at painting hair. So I started this painting at least a week before his birthday. This first picture is what the end of that day brought, a basic outline of the image and facial features and I deliberately made it high contrast. A technique I learnt (grudgingly) in life drawing was how to underpaint, this is when you paint quite heavily, in big block shapes, often in colours that are not in the photo. (Obviously not in this case but the principle still stands). Then you spend some time with watered down greys and whites to bring the painting to a more likely range of colours. I'm still pretty new at this and still find it pretty awesome when it works. I never really know how well a painting will turn out. After the first day of painting I left it, I wasn't that keen on it and I had no clue what was next. So rather than hitting my head against the wall I left it for a few days. On the day of his birthday I finished it (yes I know I left it to the last minute)! Now I had a fresh idea of what I wanted to do to it. I've learnt not to be too bogged down with your first impressions, after all it is acrylic and you can paint over all that isn't working. So that's exactly what I did, I toned down all the heavy lines I'd created around their faces and slowly but surely brought the tone back. I find it much more difficult to paint somebody I know, however immensely more satisfying. Needless to say he loved it.
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