Saturday, 22 September 2007

over tonked but happy

Here's the lastest stage on my self portrait. I'm very happy with the nose and chin, and the far cheek, but the mouth needs some work and I'd kindly ask you to ignore the eye for the time being. When I was working round the eye and forehead I found I needed to blank out some of the underpainting with the background colour. Whilst doing this I decided to paint in some texture on the background - verticals to the right and some ceiling along the top.

Having just added the image to this post I can see there's still more structural changes to be made. But I felt I was getting to grips with the paint this morning. So much so that, having tonked off some thick paint from the forehead, I found I'd over tonked the chin so that the under painting was showing through more than I'd wanted. That's life, as they say. Or, as the French say 'Une absinthe, garcon!'.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

get the structure right

Having taken another look at the under painting I saw that the planes of the face weren't clear, so I brushed on ultramarine blue and lemon yellow, as they go on thinly and dry quickly, to map out the main shadows and highlights. I'm lighting my face with a spotlight mounted on the top of my easel, with a mirror propped next to the canvas, so my head is only about a foot or two away from the canvas I'm working on.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

A new painting

I've started on a self portrait in oils today. I found that I was frowned when concentrating furiously, and I liked the wrinkles at gave me. So I stopped painting and did a charcoal study. Then I continued the under painting, tonking* at the end to remove the thickness

I'm excited to see how it will end up, and I hope Bill in Ballaugh will bear with me during these early stages.

* Tonking is laying paper over the painting and rubbing all over with a scrunched up tissue, so that the thickness of paint transfers to the paper, leaving only a thin layer of paint but still most of the detail, on the canvas. This enables the paint to dry relatively quickly to enable you to get on with the next stage, and stops a huge build up of paint in the early states when working fat on lean - which I'll explain another day.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Finished, for the moment at least

LaMothe New Orleans Sept 07
Well, here's the finished painting. Thank you to my fantastic hubby who was there to keep me free of distractions while I worked on this.

The last few hours I managed to work on it in my back garden on the lightweight easel I have, so I was in daylight, and not under striplights. Now I want to rip off the roof of the garage and cover it in clear corrigated PVC stuff, to let the light in. In my dreams I think. Actually, in my dreams I'm in an airy attic studio at the back of a hugh victorian terraced house, with the windows open, and the sounds of the kids playing in the garden filtering through a massive cherry tree, the smell of coffee on a hotplate, hubby in the kitchen preparing the fish for dinner....... I have some great dreams.

But don't knock the reality; I have a room of my own, time to paint, money to buy paint, I have my health, so I can paint. Life is good.

I've started so I'll finish......

I didn't want to start another project, with two already on the go, so I'm working again on La Mothe, and it's coming on well.

Today I started work on the hotel facade, to get that cracked, defining the roof, balconies and metal work detail. Then I moved to the pavement and shadows there, and lastly I've gone over the tree branches, as they're key to tie it all in.

Next I'll finish the foliage and highlights to the foreground, and I think I'll be done.

It's started to take on a life of it's own, and I'm finding myself looking more at the painting than the photo I'm working from. I'm also checking it out with my eyes unfocused, to see if I'm achieving a sense of depth.

Now I see it on screen I don't like the roof, and the house on the left is too bright. I also think the sky is too dark, too 'blue' but I don't want to have to over paint it, or it'll fudge the branches. Damn. We live and learn. Maybe I could add a wash to the sky to make it even darker, so the house really stands out!

Any suggestions anyone?

Staring self portraits

I've done my old trick of a Google image search of 'self portraits' and I've found that the vast majority do have intense gazes, and look like they were done while staring into a mirror. I suppose that those of you who know me will pick up on the wide-eyed gaze more than those who don't. Another contributing factor is that the light in the garage studio is very dim, so my pupils are dilated. I want to mess around with mirrors so, like the profile picture, I'm not gazing into my own eyes, but seeing myself from an oblique angle. I also want to place myself in a setting, so that the background is also relevant to the overall picture. Lots of work ahead of me, I know.

Here's some examples of other self portraits I found which appealed to me:

Thursday, 13 September 2007

and another....

I did this in a very short time. Originally I just wanted to use the yellow against the burgundy card, but I kept seeing more mid tones which I wanted to add, and ended with deep shadows in a dark blue.

Looking at it now, it looks quite feline, which wasn't the intention, nor is it anything I've ever been described as.

I am very happy with the loose depiction of the hair, and adding the ears finishes the whole thing off. I also like the contours of the forehead, though the right hand cheek is all wrong. Again, it was fun to do and I keep learning.

Seeing this again really wants me to do a self portrait in oils now.

Friday, 7 September 2007

More about me

Here's another two self portraits done this week. I'm not that happy with either of them for various reasons but I saw and learnt new things doing each one. Yesterday I dabbed on the background colour for a self portrait I want to do in oils. Hubby's away now til next Friday, so hopefully I'll have some
productive evenings in his absence.
I've also been thinking about some stuff Eudaemonia said recently about abstract nouns, which has led me to thinking about titles for my pictures. She often gets me thinking, and it's amazing how her comments about art, which she relates to her writing, often apply equally to my painting.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

decision time

I'm not happy with the angles on the table, so I'm going to keep the right hand side as it is, but bring the left side of the table forward so it's not sitting sqaure on the floor, to add more dynamics to the scene. That means I'll need to change the back chair, or the table top will just be too big overall.
But not today, I need a break from it.
I had no idea I'd be making so many changes as I went along.

can you tell what it it yet?

I spent this morning drawing in the placement of the tiled kitchen floor, then blocking in the two tones. I thought I was done, took a digital photo, looked at it & saw loads of changes that were needed. So I made the cross bars of the right side chair more horizontal, and changed the angle of the flooring on the left.
I like the way the tiles meet in a sketchy way, I pretty much dry-brushed on the paint for the floor, and have made sure they overlap the chair in the foreground so I can sharpen up the chair legs later.
Next, I want to look at the shadows, and maybe use glazes for these, something I've never done before.
It's exciting, and while I really want to make this picture 'work' I'm trying not to be too serious and anxious about it.
I really like the roughness of the floor so far, and I want to be looser in describing the shadows and highlights overall. The white back wall needs to be a lot darker. And I don't know if the table or the near chair will be the focus. I need to add the yellow book to the table as I'm sure it will change the balance of the picture.
I have no idea when I'll get to spend a couple of hours on it next though.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

a morning's work

Thanks to a supportive hubby, I got a couple of hours working on the kitchen still life on Sunday morning. I've decided to loose all but the yellow book on the table. The white wall in the background needs to be duller, as does the brick fire surround, and I'm panicking about the tiled floor. But overall I really like it so far.

I've stopped myself adding highlights and details at this stage because I know it's all too wet at the moment. It took a lot of self control to slow down and work on one area at a time, but I've had to because I'm only just learning about colour mixing, and I can't yet grab colours confidently to add a touch here & there yet. But I feel like they are skills within my reach. All I need is time to paint.

I also finished reading 'The Yellow House' and I've ordered a book of Van Gogh's letters. I'd love to go to the Tate in London to see his Yellow Chair.

an exciting night

I spent an evening on two self-portraits, and I was as high as a kite when I finished them. The charcoal one was done first, just because the charcoal was to hand after sizing up the still life canvas. I enjoyed being able to remove the lines from the watercolour paper I used just with a sweep of my finger. I even managed to resurrect an 18 year old putty rubber which I'd moved house countless times with.

When I'd finished it, and sprayed it with fixative, I was still fired up, so I grabbed three soft chalk pastels and started on the second portrait.

I look pretty wide eyed in it, which may be a result of my excitement, as it's not my usual expression, but I'm pleased with the way I found myself working on the whole face at once, which kept it in proportion.

Saturday, 1 September 2007


As I said, I've been reading a lot about oil painting techniques, discovering the idea of underpainting and fat on lean. I've found that previously I've worked wet on wet, but I'm fascinated by the idea of letting underpainting show through broken colour on the final painting. So, whilst half-dreaming last night, I came up with a scheme of colours to use for my underpainting which, on reflection in the morning, are mostly complimentary colours of those in real life.

The underpainting was done in acrylic because I was scared to use the palette of oil paints I bought recently. They are 'artists' grade paints, rather than the 'student' grade I'd previously used, and the palette was suggested by the chap in the art shop (more about that later).

After I did the underpainting, I did some exercises with my new paints; looking at the values of the raw colours, and then making a large grid of secondary colours, plus titanium white. This second exercise was fantastic, and I discovered some, amazing browns, and purples. Adding the white to the corner of these secondary colours was an eye opener, creating great skin tones and greys.
Related Posts with Thumbnails