Let me start off by saying I have to return to Peru! Maybe it will happen sooner rather than later but as I come to an end of the Peruvian leg of my travel memories I did learn a lot along the way which helped me improve my approach to portraits.
This portrait is by far my favourite. I was enthralled by the multitude of colours and the stark contrast between the turquoise background against her red coat. This one took me about 11 days. I think it was because I was so in love with everything about it and didn’t want to take too long to finish so I was excited about seeing the end product and getting it all the way I wanted to.
I did a trial version of the wall background because I needed to have it all perfectly executed and I guess this is where my perfectionist nature emerges! But I’m so pleased with the end result. After completing this piece; I was pretty much an expert with the masking fluid and capturing the details. In my reference photo, she was behind a table so I had to make up her skirt, but in the end all turned out well!
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.
In the end, I”m really happy how he turned out!
One Sunday in Lima some friends and I went to a street festival in the city centre. It was incredibly hot, however we were happy for the break away from our studies. I don’t recall the reason for the festival, but there were a lot of different traditional characters and dances parading along the square. One of which was this guy I painted earlier.
In trying to escape the heat while capturing photos of all the characters I’d never seen before, it reminded me a bit of home and our traditional characters shaped by our local folklore – a series which I have on my to do list of things to paint. But, I digress, while looking around, there was this group of women waiting against a wall in the square seemingly also taking refuge in the shade the buildings provided. I decided to capture that moment and it now features as one of my paintings. I call them the Ladies in Waiting.
The amount of detail required made me feel pretty overwhelmed and it was my first time putting masking fluid to this much use! Trying to find a tool to use with it for tiny areas proved to be a headache and at times I wanted to stop doing it, but I persevered and this is the end result. A part of my wants to attempt it again to fix all the flaws I see and do it on a much larger scale, but I do love many aspects of this, most importantly my dedication to finish!
Just before I left Peru for good in December 2016, I decided to return to Cusco on a solo adventure to knock some places off my list. This mission took me to Lake Titcaca – the highest navigable lake in the world with its colony of floating islands complete with families of inhabitants.
On my tour we took a ride on their reed boats which was awesome and learnt about their culture. While on the reed boat a family took us around and I managed to snap a pic of one of the kids in a candid shot. Looking through my pics when I’m being nostalgic, her innocence and demeanor spoke to me enough to want to paint her. I tried once before, and actually failed miserably but I was determined to do her justice.
On my second attempt I enjoyed the process a lot more. I realised I was very impatient in studying proportions, light and shadow and depicting texture. the delicate nature of watercolour – requiring sometimes layers upon layers also reminded me of my digital design work and it helped me understand the process better.
With that said; presenting piece number two in my Painted Memories Collection – the Girl from Lake Titicaca.
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.