Sunday, 8 May 2011
A Painting of a Friend's Kid
I started this painting on Friday afternoon, did the bulk of it on Saturday morning and finished it on Sunday morning. I have been thinking recently about a comment someone put on one of my flickr posts. This guy said that I needed to work on my definition, I supposed by this that he meant putting in fine detail. He had a point, a lot of the time when painting large I would stick to large brushes, on the occasions when I did end up using fine brushes it would be because I was putting in fine detail over the whole painting, like in the self portrait of me drinking water. In a lot of the the large paintings such as the banana still life or the other self portrait of myself looking worried on a yellow background, I tried to keep to large brushes while putting in the detail, I'm not sure why, I think because on a big painting I want to avoid getting bogged down in detail so I try to get the detail in with sides of brushes or by painting into thick lines to make them thinner. So I vowed to try painting something with more definition, the plan would be to paint something quite loosely with large brushes, and then add just a bit of precise detail with a fine brush.
The first painting I did to try this out was the close up of my eye. I figured that I needed some contrasts in the painting to accentuate the detail so I was looking for a source photo that had interesting detail in one part and the rest out of focus. I achieved this by taking a close-up photo of my head with the camera set to a low aperture, I don't know much about cameras but this shallow depth of field basically makes everything blurred except the thing in focus (which isn't saying much). I took quite a lot of photos and this was the one that seemed most promising. I usually pick source images looking at the photos as thumbnails to see which ones seem to have a harmonious composition, I dried reading books about composition but paintings can look artificial if you build them around lines, diagonals and rules, nowadays I try to rely on instinct, if the photo looks good it's probably got a good composition.
The eye turned out quite well I think, I emphasised all the colours and contrasts, maybe I've made all the pores on my nose look like blackheads and the freckles on my nose are never that visible, and the hairs of my eyebrows a bit black but it achieves the desired effect. It looks loose enough to be expressive and yet with enough detail to bring it that real look. I was quite pleased and a few days later painted the one of my friend's kid, the same method applied: block in all the colours with big brushes and expressive strokes and then add detail with a fine brush. The source photo jumped out at me because of the interesting colours and perspective although I had to change the background, which was some concrete steps. The colour of the goggles seemed appropriate for the background as it looks like water, it is viridian with a bit of ultramarine and white. On the left side of the painting you can see the blue of the painting I was painting over, one of the Dominican Monastery in Salamanca (you can still see it on flickr).