Lady Hamilton Study

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Lady Hamilton portrait study, Photoshop, 2016

Study of a George Romney portrait of Lady Emma Hamilton, because I love “That Hamilton Woman”, and we Emmas need to stick together.

Also, if I could just find that One.  PERFECT.  Brush. these digital studies would go a lot faster…

Running in circles

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Face Study, pen on paper, 5.5″ x 7.5″

Long time no blog!

And I have an excellent reason for that: since the end of the “30 Paintings in 30 Days”challenge, I have had to face the facts (and the finances), and hustle my butt to get a job.  This is a particularly arduous task because I’ve been a full-time parent for the last decade, and, like most stay-at-home-moms returning to the workforce, I have lost all of my confidence (to be fair, though, it was never very high).

To make matters worse, my former industry (computer animation) is very tech-heavy and very youth-oriented.  I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to make sense of any 3D software after being away from it for so many years, and even if I did manage to wrap my head around it, I’d be a middle-aged woman surrounded by bright-eyed 20-somethings (cue Sesame Street’s “One Of These Things Is NOT Like The Others”… or was that from The Electric Company?  Oh God, my memory is failing already!).

Fortunately for me, I still have friends in medium-high places, and one of them is willing to pass on my demo reel (watch it here on YouTube!) to his studio’s HR dept.  I have a copy of the latest version of Maya, and I’m happy that most of my animator’s instincts have come back to me.  There’s no guarantee that this will turn into an actual contract, of course, but it’s the most positive outside feedback I’ve had in a long time.  Believe me, I will take what I can get!

The other reason why I’ve been quiet lately is because I’m tired of the Face Studies – not because I dislike making them, but because I want to concentrate on original work.  The trouble is, I can’t decide what I want to do or how I want to do it (the usual refrain), and this lack of original work weighs on me more and more with each passing day.  With all that stress, who has the gumption to make ART?

Well, I’ve written up the glowing cover letters, I’ve fine-tuned the resume, and I’ve re-cut the demo reel.  They’re out there in the world at this very moment, impressing or boring recruiters as we speak.  There’s nothing left for me to do except wait*.

So Hell YEAH, let’s make some art!  Inktober may have started weeks ago, but better late than never. 😉

*And panic.  Can’t forget to panic.

 

Painting for September 29

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Face Study no. 16 – oil and acrylic on canvas, 6″ x 8″

Here she is, folks: my final (finished) painting for the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge!  I don’t know if I can really call them daily paintings anymore, though, because I’m taking longer and longer to finish them, but I digress…

Some notes about this specific painting:

  • painting albino skin tones is NOT an easy feat.  If you’re up for the challenge, proceed with caution! 😉
  • I finally realized with this painting that it’s in my best interest to add another coat or two of gesso (with some light sanding in between) to my pre-gessoed canvasses.  The basic Omer Deserres canvasses are fine, but these small Apollon ones would pill here and there and leave tiny bits of matter in the paint.

Things I’ve learned about oil painting in general thanks to this painting:

  • I really should use more paint.

Next time: A complete rundown of the pros and cons of doing this daily painting challenge – what I learned, where I stumbled, how often I asked myself “why the frig am I doing this?”, etc!  Stay tuned…

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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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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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