I was happy to have two paintings accepted for the current ‘Masks’ Exhibition at the Arts Illiana Gallery, Terre Haute, March 5-May 21, 2021. The first one I painted is a self-portrait, although I am so masked that it could not truly be called a portrait!
We flew to Albany, NY twice in Dec 2020, first to visit a sick relative and then to attend her funeral. I wanted to have a rest on the flight, so I put on my eye mask, and then thought this was peculiar–my face was now totally covered! With some experimentation I was able to take some selfies with my phone and painted from these after we returned home.
These are exercises in oil; first, pears in monochrome, raw umber at the top and ivory black on the lower one. I was beginning to feel how the traditional oil paints and medium went on to the canvas.Then I tried a study in color, (left) following along with Paint Coach, Chris Fornataro. The last pear (right) was painted from life-my own still life set-up.
I love the rich and luscious colors, the depth and form, and the brushing, blending and layering possibilities of the oil paint.
Although I’ve enjoyed the acrylic glazing process, I decided I wanted to return to something with more ‘solidity’ and depth, and a method that is more direct. I have not been able to find mediums I like for the water-mixable oils, so with some encouragement and instruction from Kari Rajkumar, I’m working with traditional oils now.
I bought a small selection of Gamblin 1980 oils locally, and have been working on exercises from Paint Coach (on YouTube and Patreon). Paint Coach (Chris Fornataro) is very good at simplifying and de-mystifying the materials and process, with excellent tutorials on all aspects of oil painting. And he’s often entertaining!
The layers of color are so much fun! I’m really enjoying this process. It is very calm, slow, and meditative. Each layer is only just visible as it goes on and so makes a small difference, thus making it easy to change direction as the painting develops.
During the corona virus ‘shelter-at-home time’, March-May, I followed along with artist Matt Philleo in the challenge he was offering as free online lessons every few days. I liked the idea of doing a special project during this strange time, and I liked the encouragement to use a 16 x 20 size, which I have never done before.
I had tried glazing with acrylics a few years ago, but probably was doing it too thickly and impatiently. It didn’t go very well. This time, with his instruction to use 95% matte medium to 5% paint, and paint so lightly that you can hardly see the difference, it went a lot better and I like the result!
‘Going Out Again’, 16 x 20 inches, acrylic on canvas panel
This is my first attempt at a self portrait, something of which I have felt scared up until now. I thought perhaps the going might be easier if I included another special person. In the end, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Redesigning yourself is liberating!
There is a problem with setting up self portraits-if you use a mirror to see yourself, that is the view you are used to seeing, but not what other people see when they look at you and so they will think it looks quite wrong.
If you use a photo of yourself taken by someone else, again the image looks backwards to you, the subject, but correct to everyone else. If you take a selfie, the set-up is a mirror image (looking correct to the self), but the photo, once taken, flips and looks backwards to the subject!
I’ve seen one artist who addressed this by painting a profile self-portrait using two mirrors.
The source for this painting was a selfie photo, so my face looks a bit odd to me (not what I’m used to seeing), but I hope it looks correct to everyone else!
On my recent birthday, which fell in Thanksgiving week, my requested activity was to paint portraits of my family members from life. I thought they could not sit for too long, so I attempted to complete each portrait in one hour. It was challenging! In the end we spent one and a quarter hours for most of them.
I painted the first one the day before my birthday, the next three on my birthday, and the last one three days later. My family found it more difficult to sit than they expected! I tried to encourage them to be relaxed, move as they needed and feel free to talk to the people around, but not to me! I was very grateful for their efforts.
They are all 11 x 14, oil, painted on a chromium oxide green toned canvas board.