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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Portraiture is Painful


Monet once said "Painting is painful," and I would have to agree, but as for today, and for me, Portraiture is painful - very painful.  No wonder I've been cussing more in the last week.  Trying desperately to capture Matthew's sweet personality, bright eyes, and rosy cheeks has been a chore - but well worth it.  I am anxious to finish his portrait, let it dry, and varnish it.


I've been working every day for over a week now on this painting, and tonight the frustration kicked in, but that may have been because I'm tired.  Really tired.  I've been standing at the easel for hours and hours, but I did have company for the last few days.  Alison has been coming over and taking a break from her remodeling project at her new home to paint with me. 


I can't wait to show you her painting.  I love the way Alison paints.  She uses bright, vibrant colors and she paints in acrylic.  I told her that her paintings remind me of Peter Maxx.  Pop Art.  Really cool.  But, in the meantime, I struggle with this painting.  I am almost done with his face and hair and then I will work on his clothing and body with a more impressionistic brushstroke. 

The background will be my next big struggle.  I can never figure out what I want to do with the background for a portrait until I have scraped off a ton of paint.  As for the blue that you see, that was just my way of putting something around his face and figure, but that will change.  I may try to replicate the reference image (below), however, I don't want him sitting on a rug.  Maybe a rock, what do you think? 


Monet was right - "painting is painful" but Renoir once said "One must, from time to time, attempt things that are beyond one's capacity" and that I must agree.  I find portraiture to be my greatest challenge and my greatest satisfaction.  I want the skin to look luminous and the eyes to sparkle and look real.  I want to see the roundness of the cheeks and the wetness of the lips.  The real challenge for me is perfecting every value within the color of the skin and the eyes so that it looks uniform in shadow and in light.


I suppose when I want to pinch his adorable cheeks, then I'll be done with his face, and for me, that is the most important element of this painting - his adorable face.

Would you like to see my reference image:





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