Advanced Painting Atelier Week 10 & 11 Split-Complimentary Color Figure Painting

“Two Weeks.” I have visions of the huge and tall person in the movie Total Recall when the head explodes while going through customs. I decided to do a portrait, of course, I wanted to challenge myself because I thought I needed the practice. Finishing it in two weeks was a joke! For what it is worth, I just finished it. Remember, that always comes with the caveat of “I’m going to futz with it for a while longer until I’m satisfied…”

I chose to lay this painting out using a grid, that’s what the black lines were for. Have you ever heard of the term, “no battle plans last beyond the first engagement?” Painting is like that. Once you get the first coat of paint on the canvas, all your reference lines or points vanish and you are left with your own skills. This is one of the reasons my self-portait moved into that incredibly awkward 16-year old boy. One of my goals for this blog is to show you what painting is for me. It isn’t perfect. It’s a process. Frankly, a painting is never done, I can always find other things to tweak. The more I learn, the less happy I am with my older paintings, but they tell a tale of my growth as a painter; and they are so much more important for just that reason. Even with my limited knowledge at the time, I painted them anyway. Whatever level of artist you are at, I suggest you do the same. You cannot improve as a painter if you don’t paint. The practice alone is what will make you a better artist, not thinking about it, not studying other painters. You have to PRACTICE your craft, to ACT upon that knowledge for it to mean anything. Please take that piece of information to heart.

Here it is early on.

I put about 60+ hours into the final painting. I thought it would be good practice for the Schaefer Portrait Challenge coming up in September of this year. True to form, looking at the shadows in the ear I need to soften them just a bit so that they blend in with the rest of the ear, and that list is getting longer…

What did I learn? I love doing portraits. They take a lot of time to do right. One of my past professions was that of a massage therapist. Every time I worked on a body, I fell in love with the shape of the body, the curves, the feel, and I was able to work on someone without any type of judgment, just an appreciation for how well it all fit together. I find when I’m working on a portrait, I get that same feeling. It is the minute changes in expression that make or break a portrait. All the nuances have to be just right or it is the face of someone else. I hope Jake will be pleased with this one!

Painting a portrait is a very different thing from painting a “hula dancer” or a”female nude”. You can create the form of a generic man or woman and there’s no requirement that it look exactly like the model unless that is part of your plan. That’s up to you. Painting a portrait though, at least for me, I want it to capture the energy and feel of the person I’m painting. That is one of the reasons it takes so much longer for me.


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