Painted Memories Collection – First Stop: Peru

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!

IMG-20180327-WA0005 (1)

 

 

My First Art Collection

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!

Watercolour Portrait Practice

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.

portrait #7

Watercolour Portrait Practice

Portrait 7Colour 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?

Portrait 7

 

Watercolour Portrait Practice

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.

girl portrait

Watercolour Portrait Practice Continues

green eyed girl portrait

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.

 

Portraits Again

Continuing with portraits I decided to try my hand at a different complexion to see if would be as easy as it seemed in videos. The complexion turned out ok what my main issues were this time were her eyes to capture the life and gleam within them and the shadows and colour within the creases under her eyes.

Getting depth on the skin to make it more realistic on paler skin was tough…so her face does look pretty flat.  Painting the hair was interesting. I tried this technique I used before with underwashes of lighter colours and gradually building on them it worked. Next time to emphasize the flyaway strands on a darker background, I will use some masking fluid and then paint in after. Finding tools to apply thinner lines though is tricky.

Covering up mistakes on paler skin is also tricky. I misjudged her lips and didn’t get the hang of lashes which I actually attempted this time but with practice I’ll get the hang of them. One thing I’ve begun to embrace in this painting process is the importance of patience. I have always been low in that department and unfortunately, the results of a lack of patience can be quite evident. Using this platform to highlight my wins and losses in the process is all part of the plan.

flower girl

Portrait Practice in Watercolor

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!

fro girl

Ignoring the Voice Inside My Head (and sometimes from others outside)

How do you create when sometimes you think you aren’t good enough? How do you ignore the voice and like the iconic phrase “Just Do It” I am a self-diagnosed over-analyzer. You name it, I over-analyze it. It’s something I am currently in mental rehab for and sometimes I conquer the beast, other times I relapse. In the book Art and Fear; the authors explain this common feeling when it comes to exercising your creative muscles all too well. There’s the fear of Acceptance, where they explain
“If the need for acceptance is the need to have your work accepted as art, then the accompanying fear is finding it dismissed as craft, hobby, decoration – or simply nothing at all”.
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Funny enough this is why I wrote this post…I posted this piece, my 2nd landscape painting and got a lot of favourable reactions on social media. I personally found a lot of flaws in it (the sky & the buildings in the foreground) but decided to post it anyway just to set it free so to speak.  Then, one friend private messaged me about seeking the opinions of professionals to gauge the caliber of my work rather than relying on the praises of non-artists. On top of that, they didn’t stop there, they let me know they didn’t like the piece I posted. It caught me off-guard, and I found myself explaining that not everyone will like what I do and also that most times I see flaws in my work before others do. But I post anyways to escape the fear that has kept me dormant for so long.
Additionally, it occurred to me, does one person (at least one who vocalised their dislike) really matter if there are people who love it? Is the production of art a competition among all artists within a particular medium where everyone has to love it? Do I keep my work hidden and only show others when professionals have deemed it of acceptable quality? Of course not! And in the art world…what is acceptable anyway!
Now this as you can tell by now is a venting post, and I created this blog also as a means of serving a dual purpose – to be my art diary and also to showcase my work and progress as times goes on. But enough of the venting, and onto some positive inspiration from that book again which goes like this:
“…the seed for your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides – valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides – to matters you need to reconsider of develop further”
Do you ever face this struggle?

Landscapes and Architecture in Watercolor

old church berlin
Church in Berlin on Arches Hot Press Paper
I decided to take a little break and refocus my energy on other subjects since this is all in an effort to find my style and my preferences of subjects and anyway, what could it hurt?
So this was a quick study of a church in Berlin that was just across the street from me in 2017 on my travels through Europe. I decided to do this piece without sketching first and merely try to  decipher shapes, light and shadows as best as I could and I was pretty happy with the outcome. Architecture is quite a nemesis since I have challenges drawing straight lines even with rulers…go figure.
I started with a general light wet on wet wash which is still visible on the outskirts of the main building, trying to block out the main shapes and gradually go darker with the shadows. it was a pretty overcast day when I took the photo…and so I didn’t really put much detail into the sky. I also did a rough impression of some shrubbery on trees that loomed around to frame the piece a bit.
What do you think is your biggest challenge with watercolor?