Follow that painting: Day One

I don’t do portraits and I’ve only ever done one self portrait, handily fudged by the size of the phone in front of my face. But the OCA course is about to demand I take another crack at it so I thought I’d get a head (ha!) start. I mean, all that learning-by-osmosis from Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year has to have had some effect, right? Here we go then:


Step one – pick a suitable selfie. Ok, that’s Step two; step one is getting something decent in the first place. Then, to get a feel for the larger shapes, trace those shapes with pencil on tracing paper.

Then the big step, assault the canvas. This is prepped with acrylic gesso and the medium is gouache. All I’ve done there is put on some broad sweep colour undercoat patches and hinted at the shapes from the tracing. Gouache dries quite quickly, although this is dilute, so it’s possible to come back to it quite quickly.


Here I’ve put on some more layers of colour; again no detail just big sweeps and blocking in. There are the beginnings of skin tone, the shades in the hands and face, a hint of the glasses (and don’t I wish I wasn’t wearing those!), and some stripes on the Tee top.


Now it’s gone a bit weird – unless I really do look like that! It should improve with attention to my ear, the slightly odd upper lip area, and that nose. But it could all go so very wrong (more wrong, even) at any moment. That will be tomorrow’s trauma but meanwhile, here are some sheep.


Next day: never be afraid to get rid of something that’s not working, the old masters painted over things all the time. Bye bye Weird Face.


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