I’ve been experiencing a bit of a slump lately. Just the past week or so, really. Still, it can be quite nerve-wracking. I didn’t want to admit to it on the blog, and I especially didn’t want to post the unsuccessful painting that inaugurated my current situation.
But when did hiding and running from your problems ever solve them? I tried that once, and it resulted in ten years bereft of any art-making.
So, in the interest of soldiering on, we’ll take a look at a piece that just didn’t quite come together. I’ll comment on a couple of things that *did* work, and also identify what seem to be the most egregious missteps.
A week ago Friday, we had a lovely woman sit for us at the Old Town Artists portrait session. Her hair was a lustrous graying blonde, and she wore it in two pony tails. During one of the breaks, she noted how the juxtaposition of the hairstyle with her age threw a lot of the artists for a loop. They either painted her way too young, or way too old.
I’ll leave it up to others to decide whether or not I fell victim to *that* particular trap.
Things started out poorly almost immediately. Little things. I sketched out my composition, as usual, on a page in a sketchbook. It looked good. But when I re-drew it on my watercolor paper, something was just a little off.
The picture originally included her hands off to the left, but the proportions of her body were wrong. I cropped the paper with intention of adding more space between the body and the hands, but that wasn’t working. The hands were discarded, and the narrow piece of paper that remained became the focus:
Colors were blocked in on wet paper. The colors deliberately shift towards neutral grays and earth tones.
Next, the darks were darkened and details added to the face. So far, so good.
You can see that the preceding photo was taken in hurry – while the paint was still wet. There is a distinct reflection apparent above one eye. There’s also a pool of red on the chin that looks like a pimple. Don’t worry: no Clearasil needed. It disappeared when the water dried.
On the finished piece, the model’s complexion is the most successful part. Well, that and the hair. It looks detailed, but not fussy. The light seems to dance off it just right.
Unfortunate parts include the cloudy eyes, which I just couldn’t fix. Not for lack of trying. However, there’s a point when continued attempts at improvement only risk disaster. The main problem isn’t even the flatness of the pupil, but the “outlined” effect around the rim of the eye. Better luck next time.
Well… next time turned out to be… interesting. Stick around to see the results from the most recent session.