Having lived in Peru for about 11 months while going to school it was my first time living outside of my country for such a long period of time. It was definitely an adjustment not hearing your native language 98% of the time but sampling new foods, seeing new locations and making new friends helped with that adjustment. I also managed to learn Spanish along the way; I really had no choice in the matter and I’m glad I did 🙂
Peru for me represents a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, the challenges associated with living in any developing country became quite evident at times(and more so in another language) and on the other, my desire to explore its geography and immerse myself in the culinary world made the challenges (and the extra pounds) worth it!
I am in love with colour. Seeing the indigenous people in all their colourful splendour was a sight to behold – it’s what inspired my first piece in this collection. I actually posted about it before. In this piece, I experimented with a couple watercolour techniques to get it to my liking. I especially love his jacket where I got it to resemble the textured threads of the fabric with some dry brush and lifting of the paint. I wanted a type of 3D effect so I painted his hat outside of the colored background; I was also unaware of the use of painter’s tape for my borders, so this was my attempt at staying within the lines. Almost got it!
I feel like a collection isn’t even what you call it! But I’m currently working on my first collection of paintings…maybe it’s my first full portfolio, maybe it’s something else altogether. My intention is to produce 10 – 12 pieces and showcase in different formats/media.
Over the following weeks, I will be showing snippets of my process on my Instagram so if you’d like to see works in progress of these new pieces and my previous portrait posts, head on over!
For now, I’ll leave with this first teaser of my collection/portfilio/artistic reveal!
Stepping out of my comfort zone a bit with this portrait. It’s my first child portrait and I chose to do it because there’s a painting in my head that’s similar to this subject I want to do at some point on a much larger size and so this is sort of a test run.
She was pretty fun to do, I imagine just as much fun as she looked like she was having when her photo was taken! My favourite part of this piece is her forehead; I just love how the light was captured just at the very top where the skin and hair meet at the hairline which adds so much depth. It definitely left me pretty content. To get the effect of thicker, dried paint on her skin, I decided to whip out my pastels again so I guess it’s more of a mixed media piece which added some needed texture. I just wish I had more of a colour palette to choose from with the blues!
Continuing with the portrait series led me to quite a challenging reference photo which had a lot of shadow as well as a hair colour I never painted before. The shadows and face shape overwhelmed me a bit since the skin tone was pretty pale against a white background with light coloured hair….the perfect recipe for a great learning experience!
Proportions are my enemy! That and patience…lol…I think I have to start making a checklist of all the elements I want captured and mark them off when done. Sometimes in past pieces, when I thought I was done I came to realise that I either forgot the lashes, or the brows, the glint of the eye or a shadow…you name it, I’ve probably forgotten it!
The one part I do love in this piece is her eye in the shadow, slowly but surely I’m learning to have patience with these tiny but significant features that add so much more realism to a piece and I am loving the process!
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.
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.