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!
Experimenting with skin-tones and techniques led me to another dramatically lit photo. Again, I love using purples in the shadowy areas of her face. Maintaining the balance between the appropriate amount of water and seamless blending were still a bit of an issue, but the features in this one were more proportional.
This mini-portrait challenge is teaching me a lot. Capturing the features, remembering the balance between light and shadow and keeping the essentials at the back of my mind are all coming together.
In the Caribbean, banana trees are everywhere! The banana flower is a beauty in its own right. The deep purples, the colour variation in each petal and the velvet-like texture it gives off in appearance makes my heart sing! Not to mention the contrast of all the greens and yellows of the leaves with the purple flower hanging above them – with the right amount of sunlight hitting it it’s a beauty to let your paints explore! It’s been on my painting bucket list and I finally sat down to do it!
So enough of the gushing; this was one of my first paintings done in March. Why am I now talking about it you may ask – because I have decided to also submit it to the art gallery for consideration, along with the scarlet macaw and my shipwreck in San Fernando.
Painting the flower itself was my favourite part. The lifted petals which revealed the red undebelly was definitely a highlight watching the colours bleed into each other and creating shadow. Adjusting the purples in order to depict how the light hit the flower was also a welcomed challenge. To make the background more interesting, I bled a mix of colours into one another and used salt to give some texture.
My goal is that by December 2018, I have at least 5 pieces completed for this watercolour portrait series I have in my head.
With that said, I aim to pain at least 3 mini watercolour portraits per week to get more comfortable with the fundamentals of drawing, perspective, light shadow the works. Additionally, by practicing on a small size I conserve my oh so precious paints! (They may not be professional paints right now, but hey, they still cost a pretty penny in my currency!)
So here is attempt number 2, I used the same technique as my first guy, but I may have been overwhelmed with the water. The model’s face was also starkly lit on the left side of her face with the sunshine….appearing almost yellow, so it was a bold selection for my second try in this series. Getting the 3D effect with shadow will take some more work but I am up for the challenge! On the bright side, I love love love how her hair turned out (happy dance)!
Nevertheless, lessons were learnt and onto portrait #3!
Let me know if portraits are your thing…I could use some tips!