I’m just as guilty as the next person of spending too much of my time staring at a device, and also allowing my kids to do the same. I would also admit that I may have let things get out of hand over the last two years, but I can’t blame everything on the pandemic, can I? Long gone are the days when I would purchase a few Saturday newspapers and then spend the rest of the week-end reading them at a leisurely pace. Nowadays, all of my news comes out of a little glowing box that fits neatly in my purse. The upside is that I also get all kinds of art instruction out of said glowing box, and if it hadn’t been for that, I might never have learned about the “Rebelle” digital painting software. I used it to paint this piece of my daughter indulging in one of her favourite pastimes, which is “screentime” (naturally).
With a little help from my friends
The first few months of 2022 were spent pushing myself to produce as much art as possible, and then the summer came… and I needed to take a break. And well-deserved, I thought!
But I admit that I’ve also been feeling the pressure from my empty easel a lot more lately, and I knew it was time to get back in the saddle. Summer was long-gone, after all! And if I don’t keep up the art-making on a daily basis, I’m prone to letting self-doubt creep in and knock me right off my stride.
Don’t get me wrong: I was over-the-moon happy to have my work featured in a magazine (#artgoals!!), but as a result, I was also hit with a MASSIVE case of Imposter Syndrome, too. Even now, I still can’t believe that my paintings are sitting alongside the work of REAL ARTISTS – women who have a body of work, gallery representation, a full bio of exhibitions, etc, etc. All I can think of is: “I’ll betcha that being an artist is their full-time job! How can I possibly think of myself as being worthy to stand amongst them??”
Well, if “working takes away anxiety”, then I knew what I had to do: get back to work!
AND it was around that time that an old high-school friend generously offered me some recent pictures of her so that I could paint someone other than myself. Talk about excellent timing! Of course, this is still digital, so in a sense, it’s a bit of a “cheat”, but I didn’t think I could handle the pressure of paints and mediums after such a lengthy absence. All in good time, all in good time…
I learned many things while attempting to complete this painting, such as the importance of working from a good reference image, and just how difficult it can be to accurately convey shadowed skin tones as well as brilliant, sunlit hair. Quite the challenge!
In fact, it was SO challenging that I made no fewer than 5 attempts to get this painting completed in a way that made me happy. After two false starts with oil on canvas and a number of digital tests, I wondered “Maybe this just doesn’t want to be painted?” For someone who hadn’t touched traditional paint in over a year (and is more comfortable with acrylics, to boot), a blurry, shadowed portrait with serious backlighting maybe wasn’t the safest, easiest way to ease myself back into painting. But of course, I couldn’t give up. Not only was I keen on trying to reproduce the halo effect on the hair, but also… the subject of the painting is my own daughter!
When I saw this young woman’s portrait (so-called “Cleveland” because I think it came from the Cleveland Municipal Archives), I just knew that I had to breathe some colour into her. Surely this is a woman who would have had no problem asking for, nay, demanding equal pay! Or maybe I’m projecting a little bit…
Here is the original for comparison:
One of the advantages of digital painting software is that you can easily block out new ideas without wasting any paint (this is especially good for us cheapskates!). Remember this unfinished painting from the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge? One of the reasons why it ground to a halt was because I had doubts about keeping the gauzy scarf around her shoulders white or if I should go with a bolder colour – forest green, for example.
To be honest, I’m liking the addition of a coloured background more than the idea of adding a scarf, so I just might keep it like this. Of course, if anyone else has an idea they’d like to share, please feel free to do so!