6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite artboard
It has been such a delight painting faces again after such a long time lapse since I have even thought about it. Over a dozen years ago I had started taking life drawing classes in earnest. And yes it was a bit of a struggle at first. But over time it got much better, even though the challenges are still great. And I've found whether I'm painting faces/figures or objects or landscapes, I love working from life. There are things you see & notice with your own eyes, that photographs just don't reveal. The human eye and a camera lens are not alike. Now, all that said, there are times when working from life is just not possible. And as one drawing instructor recommended, it is incredibly helpful to draw faces as often as you can, over and over, just to get it into your memory the 'average' human face. From that average, you will tweak the planes of the face, the slope of the eye, the length and width of the nose, the fullness of the lips, etc. So yes, some of that 'practice' can be done with photographs. Repetition, lots of it, getting those shapes into your 'muscle memory'....so then you can observe the specifics. Practicing both truly enhances each other. These last few oil sketches are from photos. I had painted one of these faces about a month ago and was unhappy with the results and swore it would never see the light of day again. But I kept thinking about those reference photos I had, and promised myself I would tackle it again, taking the time to really look, judge proportions AND- focus on the brush work.
One of the things I've been happy with over the last 4 years of working almost exclusively with a palette knife was getting comfortable with using a lot of paint. I LOVE knife or brush work where there is a lot of paint and it is not scrubbed out. Not blobs of it falling off the canvas mind you, but enough to honor the beauty of what oil paints can really do! It's just a matter of taste, that's all, there are beautiful works that are slick and smooth....but seeing the brushwork in a painting (that really looks ' painterly)' really makes my heart sing! So I concentrated on laying down the paint one deliberate stroke at a time, no going back to scribby-scrub in the paint and obliterate the surface.
So, with Thanksgiving upon us, I'm getting the house ready for my daughters to come up to visit. My favorite models are cooking for me on Thanksgiving day. I'm hoping to get in a small painting or two while they're here....or at least lots of reference shots to keep me painting faces through the coming winter!
For more information about this painting, contact me here.
Labels: faces, portraits, Roxanne Steed Fine Art, small oil paintings