The exercise calls for a head and shoulders portrait of a sitter, but for the over-riding reason of social distancing, I’m resorting to myself again. I’m still angry at the avoidability of the position we’re in although very grateful for to the army of volunteers now rallying round this community.
I had in my mind a very limited palette, this time in muted tones of brown, yellow, white, and grey, and I chose a sketch I made earlier for the Drawing module because it had the attitude I was looking for. Even so, I deliberately elongated the image because I wanted to make it synchronous with the narrow strip of off-cut Duck cotton I’d been eyeing up for a while.
As before, I prepped this with transparent gesso then applied a dilute wash of burnt sienna. The bulk of the paint (titanium white, Naples yellow, and Payne’s grey) I applied with a palette knife because I wanted this to carve itself out of the support. Once dry, I washed parts of it with dilute Payne’s grey using 1″ flat brushes. The nose gave me a great deal of trouble and is both too long and dysfunctional as breathing apparatus. The eyes too, which are half closed and on the up-tilt of the head, feel somewhat misplaced. I have no real idea if it looks like me because I still find it difficult to accept that I am not 25 any more, and haven’t been for some years. I am in denial. What I can say is that the spirit of it feels right even though I really wanted to add some side-eye glint under those lids. Finally, I applied some dry brush strokes of cadmium orange to the top of the T shirt because I am not fond of bland and even muted tones can, in my view, sometimes benefit from a flash of colour.
I am enjoying painting more and more and feeling much more at home with the tools of the trade, and I have to admit influence from the Sky Arts series which lets me see who other people tackle particular issues, and also what kind of painter I would probably prefer to be.
Note: might have another go at the nose tomorrow!
Enough! After several nose jobs and some attention to the eyes, I think I need to leave it alone. It’s already over-worked and I don’t think I’m skilled enough to rescue it, which I suppose is a learning point in itself.
Time taken: 9.5 hours.