Yes, again, this painting was created without an initial sketch. I may want to rethink that. In painting a portrait, one of the most important things is to get proportions correct and to get features in the right place and accurate. That’s not easy. Take a look below and how this painting began. Nothing is quite in the right place in my first paint layer. The eyes have not been painted at all.
The good news is that the hair and background I liked from the very start. I didn’t know this would be my final background but I desired no change to it. It only required some vision of the colors I wanted as an under painting, painted primarily to cover the white of the canvas. I used quick loose brush marks and it was done. Then I tried for a general shape of the face and some quick brush marks in the general shape of her hair and mostly I never touched the hair again. Can you imagine, taking a brush and going “swish, swish, swish and something is finished. These are the kind of energetic brushstrokes I love. Such loose energetic strokes are lost if I were to keep redoing and tweaking them. They’d go flat and stale. That part of the first paint layer was easy. I ended my first night. I’m always excited for the next paint session when I awake the next day, because I know exactly what I have to do – even though I know suffering will now commence.
Typically, I create four or 5 paint layers to complete a portrait. Many times, it’s even more. Portraits are hard to paint. I’ve ask myself why I love painting portraits since they require such lengthy and complex processes and can be quite tedious. It is all very complicated but I am obsessed! I decided that what keeps me going is that in the end, there is this beautiful portrait which was born out of chaos and I feel proud of this. Often the next day, after I thought my portrait was finished, I return it to the easel and work on it for another 10 hours or for several days to come. As time passes and with fresh vision, there is a process of seeing it anew, wanting to make yet another change – until finally you don’t make more changes and then it is finished. Actually, and unfortunately, that’s what happens most of the time. It’s that way for most painters, so I’m in good company.
For a couple years, Ive watched a YouTube series called “Portrait Artist of the Year”. It has been filmed in several European English speaking countries. It starts with 8 portrait artist and is whittled down to the winner -the “Portrait Artist of the Year” receives a $10.000.00 commission to paint some actor, musician or other artistically famous person. The artist competing include both professional artist and non-professional artist. During this competition, the artist has to create their paintings in 4 hours. Of course, everyone is freaked out, but everyone has the same disadvantage. Importantly to me, they all say the same thing. They say they can typically cover the canvas with paint in one day or several hours, but to actually COMPLETE a painting to their satisfaction, usually tales 3 weeks to several months. So you see, that’s really how it is. I was happy to hear this. The long period needed to complete the portrait is because of the need to “refresh” your eyes, and often your artistic vision – it’s a process that can not occur working continuously, its a process which requires time and space.
So many words today. Hope I haven’t bored you. I’m trying to cover my disappointment and sadness. Yet another mass shooting and women’s rights have been pushed back by 50 years. What’s happening in this country is horrifying. Right to Life and AR 15’s standing hand in hand – what a joke! And don’t get me started on Trump! Have a good weekend.
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