I tend to go "all in" when I do a painting, furiously picking away at details until I am 100% happy with it, and thus leaving myself little room for carefree creativity. In fact, what you can find in my shop is the majority of the work I've done in the last two years. Only recently have I once again made a point of filling my sketchbook with drawings that no one but I will see, and leaving my paints out on my table so that I can return at any time to dab a few more strokes onto a board. It never ceases to amaze me how the hours slip away from me when I immerse myself in art for the sake of art.
This month I have been trying some new mediums and techniques and thought I would share some of the more, ah, presentable pieces.
Before going into a painting, I usually do a very detailed and precise sketch and work through small areas at a time, so as to be as accurate as possible. I decided, after watching some very inspiring time-lapse videos, that I ought to learn how to paint using more care-free brush strokes, starting with big blocks of colour and slowly refining the shape of the face, leaving details for the end.
It's surprisingly difficult, as shifting the facial structure by even a few millimetres will result in a completely different person. However, with this study and the other three, I was less concerned with getting an exact likeness, and more with getting a "feel" for this very different technique.
I painted this one with acrylics in my multi-media sketchbook, and have decided that paper is wholly unenjoyable to paint on.
I kept coming across this image when doing a Google search for "woman face", and finally decided to paint it (please don't sue me). Again, I painted this one without sketching first. I also ditched the paper and worked on a 4x6 clay board, which was also really weird to paint on.
While at first I tried really hard to stick to the colours of the photograph, I eventually succumbed to my usual "cool shadows" and "warm highlights" colour palette. And, as always, I'm glad I did.
I did it! I bought oil paints!!
I must have read about a dozen "Getting Started with Oil Paints" articles, but I finally convinced myself to make the leap from acrylics to oils. Conveniently, Michaels had a big sale on all their painting supplies the day I made this decision.
After standing in that aisle for what must have been a suspicious-looking amount of time (and reading still more articles) I settled on set of water-mixable oil paints, as opposed to traditional oils which require turpentine for cleaning. Besides working indoors with no good ventilation system in the winter, I also have a very persistent toddler who loves getting into my supplies AND just grew tall enough to reach counter-height, so I didn't want to risk it.
(I literally just had to pause while writing that because I realized it the house was way too quiet. Sure enough, I caught her guilty-faced beside my bed with an open tube of paint and multicoloured smears on her cute new leggings.)
I found this photo of the lovely Anna Popplewell deep in the recesses of an ancient "Photography Inspiration" folder I had compiled when I was still a teenager. I didn't try super hard to capture her likeness, since the experience of working with paint that doesn't dry immediately was challenge enough!
It is completely different working with oils, as I am used to being able to come back a few minutes later with a fresh colour and for it to cover without any mixing—which can be a blessing when working on small sharp details, and a curse when trying to blend. It was fascinating to come back hours and even days later and still be able to mix in new tones. I was nervous to work with large amounts of paint at first, and kept thinning it out with a water-mixable linseed oil medium. Perhaps as I have more experience I will practice working with big globs of paint.
I actually started this one in acrylic, but became discouraged with trying to blend the many folds of the dress before the paint dried on me. It was, I guess, what made me finally decide to try a different medium.
Oil made it significantly easier to mingle the subtle shades, as well as refine the oh-my-gosh-so-tiny details of her face. Just like that, I was hooked. I am excited to try more!