Well, it’s taken a while. I had no idea what a journey this painting would turn out to be. I must put it away and stop fiddling. It’s kept me busy in lockdown and my hair is a lot longer now, but it’s done. Hmm, what next?
The pale pink blouse fits the colour scheme now. Minor corrections to the face and it will be finished. (Sorry about the subtle colour changes, it’s amazing how the light changes during the day even if I take the photograph from the same place. I’ll make sure the last one is true to the original.)
I’m struggling with it now. I have to bring back the simplicity of the earlier version. I am looking in the mirror as much as possible rather than rely on the photo and it is making it difficult. Unless I grin at myself I paint the face longer and less round. I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the two. There is a period of a week between these as I needed to work on dry paint. In the second picture I flattened the too complex marks on the face and used the background again define the profile. I had some incling now of how I wanted the whole painting to look.
I wanted the darker side of the face to get lost a little in the background so I darkened these areas and then worried that I had lost the likeness which can be so fleeting. I switched to the rest of the background, knowing that I would work into it more later. There are a couple of days between each of these stages and I try not to look at it in between so that I look with ‘fresh eyes’. The tee-shirt turned out to be a surprise. I mixed white with a little black to give a gentle grey. When applied to the painting next to the colours already there it appeared to be green. Such is the power of adjacent colours to affect what we perceive. I rarely wear green so I knew that, when dry, I would paint it over. This is not an option with watercolour but easy in oils.
Using the same colours on my pallette I brushed in the lighter streaks of hair following the direction of growth. A smaller bruh was neeeded to indicate the eyes at this stage. Adding the background defines the face and gives me an idea of the tones.
I am trying not to fiddle at this stage and to keep the three tones flat and separate. I avoid painting the eyes as they dominate the painting as soon as they are painted and I want to get the structure right first.
Still missing you all. I have been keeping myself busy in the studio.
My second lockdown project was to try a self-portrait. After all, what had I to lose, only me to look at, only me to please. I do wish however, that I had done this when I was much younger but I guess that we are always self critical so age should not bother us too much.
I started on the 19th May 2020 with a pencil drawing. I found it very strange to be staring at myself in the mirror and I think that feeling comes over in the drawing. Certainly, I look rather harsh. Do not forget also that what I see doesn’t always translate to the end of my pencil. It would be great if there was a direct link, but I have to struggle to get it right and I don’t always succeed. It definitely gave me a taste of what I was up against. I took the inevitable selfie which I didn’t like and then took a photo looking into my bedroom mirror with what I hoped was a more pleasant expression. This photo was also the one which gave me my colour scheme.
Using the drawing and the photo I sketched the outlines onto my pre-coloured canvas. I hung my mirror on my easel at the side of the canvas so that my painting could reflect me in a more active way.
Here is the drawing and the two photos and plus the first tentative start picking out the main contours of the face.
I have just had this oil painting framed. I am looking forward to hanging it in my studio. It’s always a thrill to see a painting up on the wall. It all starts with an idea, blank canvas and paints and after a compicated bit of magic there it is. Being creative is such a precious gift – it doesn’t compensate for being with friends and family but it may be keeping me sane during lockdown.
This is based on a seminar in 1983 at Edge Hill University. Pam Jackson was taking the seminar on English Literature. I was studying Art and English Lit. I remember fondly my time there, especially my work in the art department. I remember particulary, Tom Titherington our art tutor who allowed me to bring my baby son Andrew into the department every Friday. Lots of drawings were made of him as he sat in his bouncer enjoying all the attention. He was born in November 1982 in the middle of my course, and I remain grateful for the support I was given, by the university and from Pam and Tom, to enable me to continue. I have made my living from painting fine art and art publishing. I am now retired from commercial work but most days see me with a paint brush in my hand.
It’s sad to think that this weekend should have been the Attnborough,Beeston and Chilwel Arts Trail (ABCAT) My studio should be all tidy with new paintings on the wall for visitors to see. Actually right now it’s a mess. I have a few painting on the go and I am a messy painter. I am also considering a collage which means bits of paper from magazines all over the table and, if I open the door in a breeze, all over the floor. My garden is also Art Trail ready but my lovely Foxgloves are small this year because of the drought. I’m missing my visitors and hope you are all well and keeping safe.
Autumn by the River Trent, near Tony’s Riverside cafe.