For the past 10 years I have focused on urban landscape. Over that time the figures in the paintings became more and more important. So this interest in portraits is a natural outcome of that process.
I’m trying to develop a process that is fairly quick, a little impressionistic and that captures the character of the subject. Like anything if one keeps practicing one will eventually get there. These are 2 studies.
I find that when I do portraits I really do feel a personal connection with the subject. I love this process.
I’ve been studying Charles Reid lately. He has a unique watercolour style that is very accessible and inviting. In particular I’m looking at his approach to portraits. He was one of the first instructors I met that made me really take a look at the way I held the brush and applied my strokes. I painted far too much with the tip of the brush which can lead to overworked washes. He recommended really pushing the hairs of the brush into the paper and let the brush make the biggest, boldest stroke possible. This was excellent advice and allowed me to make much more creative use of my brush.
Anyway, these 2 studies of my wife, Susan, are my attempt to apply aspects of his style to my own subject matter.
This was the first one. I think it’s a very pleasant portrait though it bares only a partial likeness. There is a nice liveliness to it and I really like the hair and the colourful scarf. In fact I like it a lot.
This is one I did last night. I love the dappled light on the vest. I think the composition is very effective and has a very nice feel of light overall. I would like to improve the main eye. It seems like it’s a little confused as to whether it’s looking ahead or straight at the viewer. The likeness is quite close and it does capture the look of pondering that the photo had.
On a technical note. Reid uses raw sienna a lot. I have traditionally not used it much at all. I dug out my tube of it for this portrait. You can see it very plainly in the jaw line. I’m still not sure if I like it.