For this piece, I decided to keep things simple and low-concept: just a roughly painted self-portrait, using a reference photo taken with my computer camera (note the tell-tale glowing blue neck). I kept the brushwork loose, and even cheated a little by sometimes relying on the eye dropper tool to help me get the right colour. There have to be some advantages to working digitally, right?
This piece was also an opportunity to better understand the newest addition to my digital painting arsenal: Escape Motion’s Rebelle 5. It’s early days still, but this might turn out to be one of my favourite softwares. Photoshop will always reign supreme for the sheer number of tools at one’s disposal, but Rebelle 5 has a much better “surface texture” feeling. Many digital painting programs claim that they can mimic the sensation of pushing paint around, but this one comes closest of all, in my opinion. And if nothing else, how can you not like the ripped edges of the canvas? Talk about a perfect little detail that I never knew I wanted!
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!
January was a fantastic month for me, art-wise! I made good on my promise to do at least 15 minutes of art-making every day, and that very often grew to 30 minutes or even a full hour on the week-ends. As you know, I’m still struggling to find my genuine artistic voice, and everything I’ve ever read about it states that your voice won’t just materialize out of thin air. You’ll have to make art – and probably quite a lot of it over a long period of time – before things start to fall into place. “Quantity leads to Quality” is the order of the day.
Anyways, here is a self-portrait based on a photograph of myself taken about 15 years ago when we lived in Wellington, New Zealand. The background is the view from the mountains south of Wellington overlooking Owhiro Bay. If it looks like I’m squinting, it’s because the mid-day sun in that part of the world could be unbearable bright, making every shadow look inky-black.
I’ve never painted jewelry before, but I have to say: that earring is my favourite part of the painting!
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!