Painting for September 27

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The Star’s Daughter – acrylic on panel, 6″ x 8″

I have… mixed feeling about this one.

First of all, you really should see it live and in person.  Trust me – the colours of her hair have a nice depth, and her skin tones are far more delicate than what you see here.  For some reason, WordPress just makes this one seem garish.

But wonky colours aside, I’m not sure about proceeding this way.  I can look at this painting and know exactly where I stitched stuff together (and I will always see that!), and don’t get me started on how long it took to find all the right elements!  Even when I got the right shoulder and head pose (and the hair!), it didn’t always follow that the shadows matched.  In fact, finding all the reference images ended up taking much longer than the actual painting!

What I like about this painting:

  • the fact that it’s an ORIGINAL work.  I promise: there ain’t nobody nowhere walking around looking like this!

What I like less about the painting:

  • I couldn’t find very hi-res references, so it feels a little “fudged and slurred through the difficult passages”.  But more than that, I started the painting with a sense of “why bother?”, and that’s just not the way to do it…
  • I will always and forever look at this painting and wonder “Do all the elements coalesce?  Can anyone tell it’s a Franken-painting?”

What I learned through this process:

  • coming up with original ideas is HARD.  And SCARY.
  • and ultimately, that is why some artists are strictly representational.  If it’s not directly in front of them, they won’t paint it.
  • I miss the zen factor of painting from internet images.

What I MIGHT change…

  • Her hair.  I liked my initial colour layout and just kept it that way, but now I wonder: does it look too unfinished?

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Changing Course

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The start of a beautiful friendship? or imminent disaster?

I won’t lie: I have really enjoyed the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge (even if I’ve only done about half of it.  I was a late beginner, after all).  It was a fantastic opportunity to force myself to get comfortable with paint, as quickly as possible.

And it worked!  Already, I can see a huge improvement in my painting over the last few weeks, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that the more confident I felt, the more I was willing to push myself.  Heck, I even tried my hand at oil painting (shocker!), and not only did my studio NOT spontaneously combust, but I also managed to churn out some pretty decent work.  High-fives all around!

BUT… there is one problem: all of the work I’ve done so far has been reproductions of images I’ve found on the internet.  To be fair, I never claimed that they were original images, and have always been careful to title them as “studies”, but still my conscience is not clear.  Someone else took the time to hire the model, the hairdresser and makeup artist, set up the lighting, rent the studio, develop the art direction, etc, etc.  I didn’t have anything to do with any of that.  All I did was say “Wow, I’d love to try painting that”, and then proceeded to do so.  Most of the artistic decisions were made by someone else.  In a way, this is just another variant of Fan Art, and I’ve already gone on at length about my problematic relationship with it.

Which means we’re right back at Square One: if I want to make completely original work, I need to photograph my own models.  I don’t have the monetary funds for that, so the next best thing is to cobble together a few choice images and hope that the result is harmonious (or at least, a mostly harmless Franken-picture, if you will).  Behold my first try (see above)!

And here’s where the fears and doubts come crashing in because now I’m the one making the artistic decisions.  My mind is constantly second-guessing, oh, just about everything, and I’m having a lot less fun.  I’m even dredging up some serious existential garbage from my subconscious, wondering “Is this what it means to be an artist?  Because, quite frankly, I don’t know if I have the strength of character to pull off a lifetime of these insecurities!”  Honestly, how does Rose Miller of Wolfgang and Rose make it look so easy? 

Just so we’re clear, I may have a few more meltdowns before this picture is done, but I promise to give it my best shot!

Painting for September 16 (way overdue!)

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Face Study no.15 – acrylic on panel, 6″ x 8″

I seriously considered uploading this one to today’s (or yesterday’s) “30 in 30” page, but I thought that would be dishonest of me.  This painting was started way back on September 16, but I’ve worked on it here and there since then, so technically, it can no longer qualify as “a painting a day”.  It’s too bad because I’m actually quite proud of it and would love to show it to a wider audience.

I’m particularly happy with the blue highlight on her nose! 😉

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Painting for September 23 WIP

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Face Study no. 17 – acrylic and oil on wood panel, 6″ x 8″

I always lose steam by the end of the week, so today’s painting for the 30 in 30 challenge might be a little late…

On the plus side, I might have figured out the best working method for me:

  1. Apply acrylics for the base “flats”, smooth where possible
  2. Paint the eyes and other fine details in acrylics ONLY
  3. Paint over only certain areas in water-soluble oils as needed.

And that way, I’ll get my nice, smooth surfaces, and my fine detail, and not want to tear my hair out! 😉

In case you were wondering, this painting is 90% acrylic.  I only painted over in oils parts of her nose, lips, ear, and the lower part of her cheek.

 

 

Painting for September 22

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Face study no.14 – oil on canvas, 6″ x 8″

I must be moving up in the world because I’ve graduated from canvas boards/panels to actual stretched canvases!

This one looks better as a .jpeg than it does as a painting, for some reason.  I can’t say I’m incredibly happy with it, and that’s mostly because I think I started to treat the oil paint like watercolour*.  I was so focused on keeping the skin pale – knowing that if I made it too dark I wouldn’t be able to fix it later, because, y’know, OILS – that I may have made this painting a little linseed-heavy.  Consequently, I had tremendous trouble  painting her eyes, eyelids, and eyelashes.  Her hair is the only part of her which is actual meaty PAINT.

And ok, I may have exaggerated her wall-eyes.

Tomorrow: back to acrylics!

*Speaking of watercolours, I keep wondering if I should give them a go.  I’m at the halfway point in the “30 in 30” challenge, and quite frankly, I’m getting a little bored**, and may need to change things up a bit.

**But honestly, how much novelty was I expecting when I decided to paint women’s faces for 30 days?  Three eyes?  A nose growing out the top of her forehead??

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Painting for September 21

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Face study no.13 – oil on panel, 6″ x 8″

This one kicked my butt.  But GOOD.

I was feeling confident (read: cocky) after my painting yesterday, and seeing as how we’re enjoying the very last of the warm weather here in Montreal, I thought that I might as well take advantage of being able to open the windows and crank out another oil painting.

And I worked, and slaved, and struggled, and cursed the day I ever decided to paint a portrait with hair (my nemesis!!!).  And after great effort… it turned a corner, and it came out alright.  Oh sure, there are parts that look too much like a “painting” (very obvious large brushstrokes where the unfriendly reality of oil paints reared its ugly head – i.e. you can’t paint pale over dark and get the highlight effect you’re looking for, at least not in one sitting .  I swear, oil paints should simply be renamed “Can’t Undo” paints), but I’m pretty happy with it.

(Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m RELIEVED, and that’s the truth of it!  Daily Painting may be all about the journey and not the destination, but… at the end of the day, I really, really, REALLY wanted a pretty picture!)

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Painting for September 19

september19
Face study no.11 – acrylic on panel, 6″ x 8″

I swear to you that I set out to produce something fast, loosey-goosey, and sketchy… and I crumbled and started smoothing things out again (which was actually pretty difficult to do over all that paint).

I also realized that I’m STARVING for colour, so… Barbie Pink backgrounds for everyone!

May have to re-work this piece.  It looks fine large, but as a thumbnail, well, I find that the errors are more apparent.

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Painting for September 18

september18
Face study no. 10 – acrylic on panel, 6″ x 8″

Yes, I’m a bit behind in the “30 in 30” challenge, but I have a solid excuse: I came down with the flu on Friday, and haven’t had the energy to paint since then.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I did start a painting on Friday, but I was a) too sick to finish it, and b) so wrapped up in the details that I felt it deserved to be done properly.  I even tried to finish it Saturday night, but there’s still so much work to be done.  You can see a WIP of it on my Instagram feed.

This also highlights a particular problem I’m having with the “30 in 30” challenge: when given the opportunity, I will always hone in on the details.  But of course, a finished portrait has to take more into account than eyelashes or the shine on the lips.  You have to pay attention to the Big Picture.  Also, each painting ends up taking WAY too long!

For today’s painting, I forced myself to keep a more loose and “sketchy” look.  I still haven’t achieved it to my satisfaction, but I’m getting there!

What works for me:

  • the limited colour palette
  • the “patchier”, less refined paint strokes
  • her blue hair, just because

What doesn’t work for me:

  • the brush strokes of the hair, but then, you know how I hate dealing with hair…

What I learned with this painting:

  • Ultra Matte Medium is great, but maybe what I really need is Ultra Matte Gel?

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