Screentime

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Screentime”. Rebelle 5.

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).

Backlighting

©2022, Emma Pittson, “Backlit”. Rebelle 5.

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!

Second Mayowa Nicholas Study

©2019, Emma Pittson, “Mayowa Nicholas Face Study II”. Photoshop.

Another digital portrait from last year (or maybe even earlier!) that I’m only posting now (woops!). This is not the first time I’ve painted this model. What can I say? The proportions of her face just seem so mathematically perfect to me!

I really miss doing portraits. I am this close to putting the call out on Facebook or Instagram asking for people to send me pictures of them just so I don’t have to fall back on self-portraits or pestering my immediate family to pose for me.

Freckles!

©2020, Emma Pittson, “Portrait of Salem Mitchell”. Artrage.

I experimented with a new (well, new to me) digital art software last year called ArtRage. It styles itself as a “natural” painting software, which I guess means that they don’t over-burden the program with all kinds of photo editing doodads and just keep to the essentials. ArtRage also limits their brushes to only a few wet and dry media, palette knives and the like, so if you’re new to digital art, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. Best of all, they make very believable visible brush strokes, which is what first drew me to the software. Oh, and the price is very affordable – always a good thing! I had an easier time negotiating the colour palette in Artrage in comparison with Photoshop, but blending turned out to be a little difficult (but then, maybe I just haven’t experimented with it enough).

When I made this, I was trying to get away from working from images found on the internet, but Salem Mitchell has such glorious freckles that I couldn’t resist!

And… Back to Portraits!

©2020, Emma Pittson, “Vintage Ariel”. Photoshop.

On a whim, I decided last week to crack open one of my many vintage magazines and see if I could reproduce an image. I am beyond amazed that I actually managed to 1) finish something, and 2) find that I’m happy with the result, especially considering how flat and grainy the original image was! I especially wanted to throw in the towel once I got to rendering the hair (never my strong suit). Let’s hear it for perseverence!

To me, this portrait is a direct result of all the practice, practice, practice that began with the portrait studies of the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge. Even though the reference image had matte colours and little light information, I had completed enough portraits over the last few years to be able to fill in the blanks. There’s no way I would have been able to do this without having put myself through that “boot camp”!