Thursday, March 21, 2013

STRUGGLING WITH A PORTRAIT


John Singer Sargent is quoted as saying, "Whenever I paint a portrait, I lose a friend."  I think I know what he means.  Of course, he painted most of his portraits in oils and could rework and change and make things right, over time.  The only way we can do this in watercolor is gesso the watercolor paper first, then you can wipe back to white (or close to white).

So I took a painting of Mr. Forbes I had done a few years ago and wiped it back to white (apparently, I had spray sealed it with acrylic spray so had to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe it back but it worked just fine).  Then began again, trying to work slowly and carefully, taking breaks and looking at the features.  

What I see wrong - the white moustache and beard don't look right and I need to figure out how to do this without putting Chinese White on it.  Perhaps a tiny brush to lift off anything that's white, leaving the color around it.  What else I see wrong - I've made his face longer and thinner at the top than it is, plus I've taken years (decades?) off his age.  

So, back to the drawing board for this one.  I need to give it some time to rest and try again with little changes as I go.  And get rid of that Chinese White moustache and beard!


9 comments:

Celia Blanco said...

Great quote! I think this portrait is coming along very nice. I love the light hitting his face and the overall blue palette against his dark skin tones.

CrimsonLeaves said...

There is a charm to this piece that I do so love, Rhonda. And I have to tell you, I always learn so much in the way of little tips from you! Who knew?

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Celia and Sherry. I have wiped the bottom part of his face off again and started over. That's the good thing about watercolor over gessoed paper!

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

I think it's looking good but maybe needed a deep dark in the bottom right portion of beard and top left of the mouth. Gessoing the watercolour paper sounds like an interesting experiment....

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Lisa. The gessoed paper means you can wipe back to white - so lots of room for revisions, which this one needs!

Debbie Nolan said...

Rhonda - not having seen Mr. Forbes - he looks pretty good to me. I am no portrait artist. Hope to try someday though. Thanks for sharing what you think is wrong and letting us know someone else struggles as well.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Debbie. I hope my struggles help someone! ha ha

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

If you ever have the chance... study portraits with Janet Rogers. She recently was a visiting artist where I work and has the greatest way of managing skin tones, highlights and shadows. Not to mention her sketching skills are superb! She also has DVDs and feels her best is Watercolor Rhythms with Figures. I need lots of practice :)

RH Carpenter said...

Pam, I have taken 2 workshops with Janet years ago. I love her style - which is like Charles Reid (a bit). I haven't really studied but know she has said herself she doesn't do dark skin tones.