Extra curricular noses

Call me weird but I’m determined not to graduate this course without making a decent painting that includes a nose. So today, having almost finished up with Studio Practice, I took the plunge and, to really give myself a get-out clause, I chose a photo of an exquisite black woman after coming up blank looking for Nish Kumar, and decided to use oils for the first time ever. Someone gave me some when I began this course, smelly solvent and all, so armed with a couple of YouTube videos, and an acute awareness of the prolonged drying time of this stuff, I put gooey brush to canvas board.

It goes on very nicely. It also rubs off very nicely too. Here we are at a point where I should maybe have stopped a while ago or alternatively should keep going till I’ve manoeuvred this slow drying stuff into a better place.

Round One.

Whoever this is, it’s not the woman in the photo – the chin is too long and the angle tips her head forwards. It’s odd how I see this on screen but not in reality. Ignore the massive ear, I haven’t got round to that yet. And the nose? Better ignore that too!

I think actually the first iteration has more merit even though it’s even less of a likeness than the second. There’s something angry and free about her in her stylised form, and now she looks more worried and rather less likely to take on all comers if they step out of line. It’s the eyes, I think, and that slight sneer.

This could only get worse as I fiddled with noses and mouths, so it’s gone. Wiped with an old flannel. Took another run at it late evening which I’ll revisit tomorrow.

29th October. I am absolutely not posting a photo of what I’d done last night – think latex love interest! Unfortunately, and contrary to all expectations, it’s dry so I resorted to my acrylics trick of scrubbing it with a scratchy cloth. This removed some of the paint but left the surface dull. Eventually, I made another two versions of this painting, each worse than the previous one, meaning that the version above is the best I’ve managed. I decided to step back a little and think about how I was constructing the face; why it went almost right when I was just ‘trying out’ the oils and then so wrong later. The answer, as usual, would seem to be over-thinking. I watched videos and got worse. I made drawings on the board. And got worse. I tried a reductive approach and – yes, it got worse.

Another thing that got worse was my flirtation with oils. The smell was getting into my throat and for a while it was all I could taste. I also found this medium to be high maintenance in terms of solvents, brush cleaning, and my stock of, until now, washable bits of flannel. Its only advantage is that buttery relationship with a canvas board and how it responds to blending.

Consequently, today’s decisions have been to go back to acrylics and see if I can find a way to make them a little more oleaginous, and to invest in some books on drawing heads and faces.

Nose fail!

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