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Thursday, February 05, 2009

My guilt trip

After badgering my class to paint their self portraits, I began to feel guilty. I did a self-portrait drawing from a mirror once, which is in my Creative Artist books, but I've never painted myself. So here it is, with some of the steps in the process. First, I used a photograph taken several years ago, which I enlarged to 8" x 10" and placed under a plastic grid. Then I doubled the grid size onto tracing paper and made my sketch to fit a 15" x 22" sheet of Winsor & Newton 140# watercolor paper.

Next, I painted the eyes to get the shapes, but not the detail. I blocked in the structure of the head and neck using Davy's gray and cerulean blue watercolors. This stage looks ghostly, but it does help you to put in strong shapes at the beginning, so you can capture dimension in the head and features. On top of the shadows, I layered thin glazes of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and Winsor red for the skin.

I painted the lips, which really brought the face to life. Then I drew a few details in the straw hat, which I didn't want to be too busy. I also laid in the shadows on the folds of the scarf wrapped around the hat, but I decided to simplify the design and color and painted it freehand. I also painted in the detail on the earring. The one in the photo was twisted, so I used a different one from my jewel-case.

Here's the portrait after the scarf and shirt were completed. I enhanced the skin color and warmed up some of the dark shadows. I'm not sure if I'm finished. I'm thinking of softening the shadows in the neck. They need to be there, but they seem a little harsh. I didn't capture my expression exactly, but I think you can recognize me, anyway. At least, as I tell my class, it looks human. Here's a larger image.

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Blogger Sheila Estep said...

Fantastic!, Thank You for the demonstration and tips on how you did it! Now I'm thinking I'd like to try my self portrait.

9:15 AM  

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