Messy Bun

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Messy Bun”. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 14″ x 11″ x 0.5″

Here is another contender for the title of “Painting That Has Sat For The Longest Amount Of Time On My Easel While I Contemplate How Best To Approach It”. I believe it clocked in at about one full year. While I’m not completely sure why I lost my courage for so long, I suspect that I hesitated partly because I worried that the whole “portrait of the back of a woman’s head” thing had already been done to death. To me, it seemed like a cheap and easy way to add some mystery to an otherwise very pedestrian image. But artists steal ideas from each other all the time, and when you get right down to it, how many of us can say that our work is 100% original? We are all influenced by each other, and if you’re waiting for a truly original idea before putting paint to canvas, you’ll be waiting a long, long time. Life’s too short!

Original Reference Photo

I also wavered quite a bit on what medium to use. Acrylics are odor-free but difficult to blend, while oils (even water-miscible oils!) give me a headache. In the end, most of the painting is acrylic, with only the hair and certain details on the clothing are oils.

This piece also went through a few digital iterations prior to – and even during – the painting process. You might remember this earlier post where I played around with various background colours on a first pass of digital painting.

The winning background colour!

Once I’d decided on the background colour, I put down a first layer of acrylics then painted a second digital pass on top – just to reassure myself that I was going in the right direction after all.

And finally, here are some more process shots as I moved from acrylics to oils.

And now this painting sits on my piano – which I also haven’t touched in forever, btw – where I can see it every day, and it fills me with a sense of enormous well-being, and also a healthy dose of “Took you long enough!”

First Painting of 2021

©2021, Emma Pittson, “Laurentian Lake”. Acrylic on canvas, 8″ x 10″ x 0.5″.

I have made some New Year’s resolutions – although not many because, let’s face it, 2020 was an abysmal year, and I think that, on a certain level, it’s enough just to keep going every day. So with that in mind, and with the bar at a very low and comfortable level, I have vowed to devote 15 minutes a day to making art! And it can be anything: digital art, painting on canvas, serious studies, doodles, original work, fanart, commissions, prepping a painting surface, or gathering inspirational images for a future piece. As long as I’ve done something, I can check that day off my calendar. The goal is to have an unbroken line of check marks for the entire month. And so far, so good!

Thanks to the pandemic, I have been permanently ensconced in my dining room since March while my husband has taken over the office/studio. I really hesitated to break out the paints because the only space left in the house for artmaking was, well, right back in the dining room, and I felt that I was already spending enough of my waking hours there – not to mention the slow and insidious breaking down of the boundary between work and home that is a feature of Life these days. Mentally, how would I make the separation? If I’m sitting down at my easel, would I feel guilty and be unable to work if I heard that tell-tale “ping” from the computer letting me know that a Teams message has just arrived? If I crack open the water-soluble oils, will the smell of linseed oil (which I’m not a fan of) linger long after I’d done a final clean-up and make it harder for me to concentrate on my job the next day?

Thankfully, none of this has turned out to be a problem! Windows can be opened to clear out the smell of the linseed oil, and computer speakers can be turned off to ensure a peaceful studio (it helps that my co-workers also want to reclaim their lives outside of work, so the threat of urgent e-mails at 9pm isn’t really a thing after all). If anything, I find myself turning away from the computer every now and then throughout the day and looking longingly at my easel! (If any of my co-workers are reading this, you now know why I occasionally turn my head screen right and gaze wistfully into the middle-distance…)

Here are some progress pics…

Values
Colour Blocking

Progress!

Painting for January 23: Where did the time go?

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©2017, Emma Pittson, “Hair Study no. 5“. Acrylic on canvas, 6″ x 8″ x 0.5”.

I think we can dispense with all pretense that I’m in any way keeping up with the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge.  So now that that’s out of the way, let me just say that this is my favourite “hair painting” so far.  Not only did I let myself get carried away with details (so much for “daily” painting), but bonus!  I also took the reference photo myself, so, FINALLY, I can claim to have created an original painting.  Many thanks to my lovely and patient model, S-A, who’s probably convinced by now that she works with weirdos.

Painting for January 10: my new bff

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©2017, Emma Pittson, “Hair Study no.4″. Acrylic on canvas, 6″ x 8″ x 0.5”.

Have you met my new best friend?  It’s Liquitex’s Airbrush Medium, and by gum, this just might be the answer to my prayers: a medium that makes acrylics just slick and blendable enough to make your life easier while still drying within a reasonable amount of time.

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