Sunday, April 29, 2012

Partial Portraits

Week three of portrait painting class.

There has been some progress.

I managed to get to class at the studio, about a 45 minute trip one way, and back home without missing a turn or getting usually takes five or six trips for me to remember how to get anywhere in a clean shot.   That's big.  Even if I don't come away with a completed painting, I can proudly show my face at home, sharing the results of my ability to find my way and back (check out my earlier posts about my GPS, Samantha, and my driving exploits).

And, to the great glee of the instructor, I showed up with everything I needed to paint.  The first week I didn't have the right medium, any paper towels or the right oils.  Week two was a bit better, I did manage to get all of the paints together.

But, week three was a total success...on the equipment side.  I brought along a new pad of palette paper (to replace my wooden palette that has wet paint on it, which always manages to get on everything in my car and everywhere on my clothes while traveling), new medium (I hear the joke, "What no large?"), and a whole roll of paper towels, to continually wipe away mistakes on the painting!  I go through a lot of paper towels.

Things were looking good, regarding preparation.  Painting was a different thing.

To continue painting the portrait on which I am working, I was advised to, "Look at it as a landscape, check the drawing by measuring everything to redraw the face, and drop lines so see where corners of the mouth fall in relation to the eyes, or where the center of the lip falls in relation to the nose, and so on"..."Take it apart," said the instructor, "Don't think of the person, think of values and lines...treat the pieces of the painting."

Fortunately, I did have an Exacto knife with me, so it was easy to take it apart.  I wasn't sure of exactly how to "take it apart," so I just cut it into four pieces.

Right away I could see the problems. Here, to the left, one can see that the eye is too big and falls to the would have been a better painting had I seen that.  The eye on the right (here and there), is much better, but her chin looks like a blister and the red coloring to the right looks like an infection...didn't see that when it was a part of a larger picture.

Years ago, on Monhegan Island, as I prepared to throw a painting away, an artist stopped me and said, "Before you get rid of that, take a small mat and go around the large painting looking for a smaller one.  In every bad painting there's usually a great postcard!"  

The chin here, with the neck looks better...maybe it is okay and there's something wrong with the upper right portion...this is strange.  But, I guess it's like wearing sneakers...they don't go with everthing.

I do think the neck is coming along well...but now I see that the blotching has spread to her chest...perhaps it's a rash...sitting under hot lights for hours will do that.

The point of all of this measuring and getting values correct is for the "finish."

Getting the light lights on at the end is what "makes the painting sing." 

As she sits holding this pose, the lightest light is on her forehead, as you can see here to the right.

I put on the white highlight and didn't hear a thing.

Of course, now that this part of her head is separated from the rest, I can see that this is really a great part of the painting.

The lesson here is that, at times, we have to sacrifice for our art and learn something in the process.  Chopping up a painting may not feel good or be the best action to take.

However, now that I look at these, and working with the "postcard" theory, maybe there's a market for partial portraits...I only paint your good side or good feature!

Let me know.

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