As you’ve entirely supplanted the real-world diary I kept for years and years, I thought I would start including (occasionally) some personal type stuff in amongst my very, very interesting posts; the ones which always receive lots of comments and such like (thanks Dad for my one cherished comment.)
Drawing is something I’ve done sporadically since my teens, Trying to paint those drawings is something I tried doing only a few years ago, spurred into action by son No.3’s GCSE in Art (with the exception of a stint at oil painting, when pregnant with son No.2, to which I attribute his creative talents.) I’ve never taken an art class and my art teacher at school was distinctly underwhelmed by my efforts, advising me against studying Art at ‘O’ level, let alone A level. I don’t know any drawing techniques or painting techniques. This little painting hobby surfaced over the years, to sink back down again, until Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year came on the telly and I caught the painting bug again.
Sky’s arty-farty competition led me to spend a couple of months last year avidly watching YouTube videos on how to paint, using water colours, oils and acrylics. I watched genius people at work; one genius in particular, working in oils, whose time-lapsed portraits made it seem as though a real person was about to step out from the canvas. They all assured me that absolutely everyone can draw and paint – all it takes is practice.
Maybe I can paint I thought (until I gave it a go) realising that most people can’t draw and paint. I can’t mix colours right, I can’t do proper shading. Hair that looks like hair defeats me. I concentrated on portraiture because I like drawing faces for some reason, and it turns out that drawing people’s faces is possibly the hardest thing on the planet. Seriously, drawing and painting landscapes/still life is a doddle compared to getting somebody’s eyes, nose, ears and mouth in the right place.
Here is a series of photos showing some of the stages of a painting (I’m using the term ‘painting’ loosely here) I did over a couple of days this week. I use the alarmingly non-artistic combo of acrylic paint and cheap, kids’ felt tip pens. Acrylic paint is wonderful stuff. It can be used like oil, by bunging it straight on out of the tube, or like a watercolour paint if you water it down. You can paint over previously painted areas over and over again. It dries almost instantaneously which is a bit of a pain, but not a problem when you’re a total amateur and don’t know what you’re doing anyway. The felt tips allow me to define an image and to also hide the pencil outlines of the original drawings; of which there are usually many. I find it impossible to paint anything straight on to paper/canvas/board without having a drawn base.
I used a cheap sort of very thick cardboard for this picture, which comes in packs of 6 from W H Smiths.
I paint from photographs, not having the skill to paint from real life. I took photos of the various stages of this impressive work of art throughout my house, because I worked on the sketching part all over the house, in-between doing the washing up etc.
The first attempts at drawing this image were too horrific to put on here as the young lady, in the photograph I used, turned out looking more like a ‘grotesque’ from one of those Victorian freak shows. This always happens when I start drawing anyone. They look like they’d be more at home in a film about the walking dead. I always wonder where to start first. With an outline of the head? With the hair? Placing the features roughly where they’re supposed to go? After much rubbing out this version appeared. Version 1 had no shoulders.
After deciding that version 1 looked too grown up, when the young woman in the photograph used still retains a very girlish quality, I tried de-aging the sketch which resulted in losing any likeness to the subject at all and completely cocking up version 1, which led to an art-inspired panic because I’d rubbed out most of version 1 with no hope of ever getting it back. Shoulders appeared.
This version resulted in better shoulder width/proportions and slightly better placed facial features (proportions/perspective are very very difficult, I find) but still looked a bit old, not to mention the pencil marks I was putting all over the neck area in an attempt to draw a proper neck.
I gave up on the neck at this point and further tried going for a younger look, losing the likeness to the subject entirely in the process, but cheered myself up by adding a butterfly.
Version 3 (woman and fan/hallway)
Version 4 (woman with bananas)
First painting spell. If any artists ever land on the blog that no one reads, I’d be really grateful if they could tell me how my previous sketches suddenly turned into this, because I have no idea what happened. It’s very amateurish I know, and very cartoon-like (which my painting always is because I don’t know how to paint), but it looks much younger that the previous versions and more actually like the person I was trying to paint.
And then the final version looked like this taking me completely by surprise, which is strange considering I painted it. It’s not a proper painting (I know this because I checked out The Royal Society of Portrait Painters.) I can’t create texture with paint, everything looks very flat and I used black felt tip (for heavens sake) to define the strands of hair etc which must be a real artistic No-No.
I shall carry on with the painting (other paintings that is, not this one) regardless, adding updates when, and if, they happen.