I’m almost at the end of the Peruvian leg of my memories and this one was not as complex – I think subconsciously I needed a break from all the details. I really love how vibrant her hat was against the contrast of the white wall. I’m not sure I captured her the way I really wanted to, and at times I feel like doing it over because the perfectionist in me is coming out, but I still love it.
The subtle shadows on the wall weren’t as difficult to capture as I thought the straps on her hat however, was much more demanding. The biggest lesson from this experience so far has been acquiring patience and trusting the process. Sometimes in the beginning, when just the undertones are laid down, I begin to doubt some decisions and constantly have to remind myself to relax and go with the flow (no pun intended!).
This next piece challenged me in many ways. The first was getting his facial expression right. He wasn’t exactly smiling, and had a small, slightly upturned mouth. I also really wanted to capture the sun-burnt cheeks that most Peruvians have with my paint application. Lastly, the biggest challenge was executing such an intricately designed poncho!
Getting the under-painting down came easier with all those min-portraits I did in the last few months. What took the most time was that poncho! I questioned my decision to do it many times – could I do it? Can I capture the shadow and light within all those patterns? the masking fluid application in itself was a huge task! My last big decision was whether or not to paint the background behind him or do a wash; mostly because I was already overwhelmed by the details of everything else, but I wanted to test my limits and went with the background of the photo. I wanted the multi-coloured clothing to be the thing that drew in the viewer the most so I made the background not appear too prominent with more muted tones utilising more water.
A couple of months ago, I posted about some pieces I was preparing that were outside of my portrait painting norm for an art exhibition in my country with one of our local art galleries for new and emerging artists.
The 16th of August was our opening night and I was not as nervous as I thought I’d be. I was more excited about the how the format of the night would be rather than the prospect of having to talk to others which is usually very intimidating for me. Would there be some opening remarks from the gallery? A specially invited guest? Alas, none of the above took place which was a bit underwhelming , but anyway I took some of my family members, mother – of course and my aunt and cousins. Some colleagues from work also showed up which was awesome since a couple of them heard my desire of wanting to become an artist for so long!
It’s was great seeing the range of talent on display…. in the lead up to the show, the gallery took care of mounting and labeling our work. All we had to do a month or so before was to get our stuff framed or matted and then show up on the night! It was my first experience dealing with a gallery so I was glad I didn’t have to be concerned with the logistics and set up. As a new artist, showing with a gallery is less stressful, they also market the show which places less pressure on you the artist if you’re new in the art world as long as you don’t mind the commission factor.
The opening ran for about an hour and a half….and I was able to talk to a potential buyer of my work who, eventually bought it (happy dance!) and meet other artists. It was a pretty awesome feeling being surrounded by those who came out to support even though they scolded me for not starting my art sooner and also just absorbing the atmosphere.
On that note, I definitely look forward to entering more shows and working towards having the guts to do a solo exhibiton!
On another note…I need to upgrade my camera…I don’t know why my S7 is betraying me like this with such poor quality pics!
In my first post, I mentioned I have wanted to be an artist since my teens. It was during that time while at high school I was exposed to artists in Trinidad and Tobago who subconsciously had a profound impact on this desire. I’ve been drawn to portraits and capturing realism in my work because of them and their ability to capture the beauty and gracefulness of their subjects so effortlessly. Their use of colour and the sheer sizes of each piece amazed me and it was only after a visit to an art gallery last week and seeing one of their works, that feeling of being awestruck came rushing back.
It was amazing seeing the work of the persons who first influenced me again. Like a sort of déjà vu and quiet recognition that I was on the path I was always meant to be on. It also made me remember that now I could add some of their prints to my art collection! So without any further rambling, here are some of the major artists from Trinidad and Tobago whose work inspired amd co tinues to inspire me the most – Karen Sylvester;Michel-Jean Cazabon;Boscoe Holder and Harry Bryden
What do you think of my sources of inspiration and who inspires you?
It’s been a little while since my last post, think I am falling off the horse a bit in terms of my level of consistency. Trying to maintain the same level of productive discipline when other parts of my life are thrown off track is a challenge, painting when I don’t want to is so hard!
I tried to settle myself this weekend and get back to at least one aspect of it all that I love and did a couple sketches of portraits. This one is the first I did, she wore jewelry in the reference photo but I decided to remove them and just focus on her features.
My most recent portrait felt so much easier to do this time despite not having done one in about a week. My goal to produce three portraits per week was put on hold over the last 2 weeks with me preparing pieces for consideration to the gallery. Needless to say I welcomed the switch to my regularly scheduled programme.
I finished this piece in about 4 hours and I am beginning to realise I really love the shadowy parts of portraits more than anywhere else. I guess it’s the richness and intensity of the colours, knowing that I can use more than one and watch them blend together is pretty satisfying. I also prefer my previous portrait in terms of the application of the layers of colours used as it gave a more of the effect I was looking for in my pieces.
Colour palettes in watercolour for skin tones can be an interesting thing. Just the thought of seeing the colours even with the knowledge of colour theory individually compared to when they are applied to your canvas make it sometimes unbelievable that such skin tones are achievable.
It also gave me the idea to keep a log of successful skin tone mixtures like this one in a palette reference book for future portraits. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. For one, I found the entire process went much more quickly than previous portraits. Additionally, my intuition to get the desired skin tone somehow seemed more responsive to picking the right ones. My Facebook has some video of the process where I laid the undertones of the complexion to the final result and it was pretty enjoyable to film. This one took me no more than 6 hours.
Do you keep a reference sheet for your swatches for different skin tones?
Practicing the different aspects of art for these paintings I eventually want to produce someday made me stop to assess how much progress I have made to date getting to that ultimate goal. My portrait series continues, however I realised I need to start doing full body studies so that everything falls into place.
Last weekend, I looked through past sketches and it inspired me to do some gesture drawings 30 to 60 seconds long and boy was I rusty! I did them over 2 to 3 days and while there were some I was pleased with, I really need to incorporate that into my practice routine more frequently. After my gesture attempts I decided to do some figure studies not set to a specific time to see if I could accomplish a study or two without the pressure of the clock and to add a little more spice to it, I decided to do this last one in pastels.
Since I have had these pastels for at least 5 years or so, I haven’t recently expanded the range of colours I have available. I have an earth-tone set and a starter kit of basic colours. Compared to watercolours, the ability to blend was a challenge, I missed my indigos and deep purples and my sepia to get the colour exactly the way I wanted.
All in all, it was fun, I will do one of these per week in different mediums I have available to increase my practice. Oh, and side note, the reason for the difference in colours in the pastel in progress and the finished one was that one was a photo was taken in the daylight and the second photo was a scan of the final image.
The last comparison photo was a five year difference and I think one lesson I learned comparing both works was that less is more.
Continuing to experiment with different skin tones led me to this reference photo that featured bright greenish blue eyes. The shadows weren’t as intense as my previous attempts, but I loved the colours of the light and shadow on her skin so I decided why not.
The features and proportion on this one were easier to execute, but again the lashes and brows require a different tool. How strange is it that I restrict myself to just brushes but it actually just occurred to me while typing this that I could use a dip pen! Bazinga! Needless to say, this will be my next course of action on future portraits to execute the finer features.
Trying to figure out my last piece for submission to my local gallery, got me thinking about what’s on my painting bucket list. For those of you who know what I’m referring to, you know there is something/someone you always wanted to paint, but didn’t have the time or courage. For me, it was getting back to one of my challenges I had as a younger budding artist at high school executing this subject as one of our assignments.
There is this tree we call Bois Cano (pronounced bwah can-no) aka Trumpet Tree or Snakewood Tree which starts off with these huge green leaves and when they wilt and dry, they make these unique forms.
When we practiced shading back in high school, this was usually the subject chosen. Back then my lack of patience got the better of me and I am not sure if i ever completed those assignments. Nevertheless, I decided to use this leaf as one of my subjects and conquer my fear because I am older and wiser so I saw no harm in it.
It took me about a day or less to complete and I really enjoyed the shadowy/darker parts of the piece and how it came to life. there are tiny veins that become more prominent when the leaf dries and I must admit I have a problem when it comes to deciding between capturing as much detail as possible or being looser in my watercolour application….needless to say detail oriented me won the battle and this is the result!
Check out my Facebook page for a video which captured some of the process!