Thursday, 6 May 2010

Art Class - week 3

image: Self Portrait. watercolour with pigment liner pen, cotman 140lb 300gsm not paper
Week 3 sees me delving into a bit of portraiture this time, after getting the bug painting 'Beth' at home. I already had the drawing stage completed beforehand, so that I could spend some time on the painting side of it, after quizzing our tutor on further watercolour techniques.

On arriving, I find our tutor sitting alone in the classroom and manage to grab a few minutes talk with her before it's time to get the the room set up. She tells me that I have potential and ought to be doing something with the skills I have. I know she is right and I certainly want to hear the things she says about me, but you know I am doing this for the fun of it and because it is so enjoyable and exiting. Ambition is something that never really interests me - I just like being a normal regular sort of guy I suppose.

During the painting, I learn from the tutor about a great way of getting a good likeness by drawing a grid over the photo to paint, and another grid on the painting. This way, by studing where, say an eye fits into the grid on the photo, we can place it acurately in the grid on the painting. This process can be extended when you need to enlarge an image, by simply drawing larger squares on the painting. Apparently some artists use this technique when painting huge images from a small photo, on something like a wall.

I managed to do all of this self portrait in the class, except for a couple of layers of wash on my jacket. Most of the work I am fairly happy with, and it is certainly a big improvement on anything I have done before. It is just a tad overworked, especially the shaping of my cheeks. Family members at home say they are too puffed up, so I think I got it a little too dark in the creases next to my nose. But at least it looks something like me, in fact, our tutor jokingly said it looks more like me than I do!


  1. A fabulous piece of work Frank. My only attempt at a portrait was a miserable failure so I know how difficult this would have been. I use the grid technique when I feel my drawing needs to be fairly accurate. It takes a while to mark it up but it certainly helps a lot with the drawing. Obviously I can't comment on the puffy cheeks but it looks great from where I'm sitting. Kudos for this one.

  2. An amazing likeness! Yor tutor is right, you really do have something.
    And congratulations by the way on being early!

  3. John, I think portraiture is so satisfying when you get it something like right, but when you can't get a good likeness, it really knocks you back a bit. My first attempts also were pretty grim, I guess you just have to keep at it.

    Sandra, thankyou. Now I'm thinking that maybe this painting lark could add a little extra income to my retirement in a couple of years time - if I get good enough! Was that a little dig there at the end? OK, you got me going ...

  4. I think that's a great likeness - you look fresh & vibrant!! ;o)

  5. Very, very nice Frank! You have captured a lot of expression, the key to success with a portrait. Great work!

    Grid's are a very useful tool and they help a ton with accuracy, but I've never had much patience for them. I prefer to sight size, and I also sometimes use plumb lines, which works kind of like a grid, but quicker. But you have had excellent success with it here, you've kept the life in it.

  6. Wow! ... that was what I uttered when I came into your blog Frank. This is an excellent portrait, well done!

  7. Crystal, thankyou! There is so much to learn isn't there?
    I've never heard of plumb lines either. When I did a few landscapes 'en plein air' a few years ago, I measured things with my finger, sliding it along the end of the paint brush for measurement.

    Ingrid, thankyou so much - did I really create the 'wow' factor? Hope my head isn't getting bigger!

  8. Terrific! I love how you did your facial colors, very clean and vibrant.