January 30, 2009

Painting the Ideal

When we do self portraits, we often draw what we perceive ourselves to look like, not as we really are. As people we always look to the...ideal, rather than the real.

Now you may say, what about those realists and hyper realists that can draw everything down to the most minute fiber? That's true, there are those painters that you'd swear had just taken a photograph. I like hyper-realism, but there's a time and a place for it. I don't feel the same way when I look at it as I do with something Impressionistic or Idealistic. There's the real and then there's...the ideal.

So I started a self portrait in water color, because it's less messy and cheap. I can work on paper with it too. I usually work in acrylics if anyone's wondering. The thing I like about watercolor is that, generally, you just have to go with it. With acrylics and oils, you can layer and layer and get amazing effects. You can get amazing effects with watercolor as well, and you actually can layer, but I've found that with watercolor it's best to just plan everything out before hand and go with it. If you make mistakes it's not as easy to cover up.

I start my self portrait. I get my water, use a crock pot lid as a makeshift palette (really why did I not think of that earlier). Get out my paper. Why a self portrait? For practice mainly.

Get my brushes. I draw myself, more or less. I've never been too good at drawing myself--usually eyeless, mouthless, ratty hair. I've gotten better at it as the years go along and I get more accepting of my appearance. It looks more or less like me, I think--lips might bee too big, nose not stout enough, my fro is definitely Angela Davis-sized (well, it actually is if I pick it out...I fail at curls).

I draw a tichel over my face--my navy one with silver stripes. It covers my face and flows behind me. It takes up the whole page.

My grey turtleneck sweater bleeds off the edge of the page.

Now that the sketch is done, I must color. What to do, what to do...I think my skin tone is pretty accurate in this, I've done it before--a little burnt sienna, lots of burnt umber. Earthy, neutral brown tones (well, burnt sienna is rather warm).

Water, water, light here dark here, a streak of shadow here with the blunt end of the brush. The nose. A black streak for eyebrows. My hair is a black void of brown and black with hardly any shadow.

Start with the stripes of the tichel. This is tricky. All I have for "silver" is zinc white and payne's grey. Payne's Grey is kind of bluish, not the neutral I need for silver. What about black and white? Ivory grey is also cool, not neutral (blue-black). I'd need oxide.

I make due. Start off thick, get lighter with water. Now the tichel. Tricky again, I have pthlalo blue and ultramarine. Phthalo looks like it's the closest to what I need, ultramarine is too light. I settle on both. Thin layer of phthalo and a thick, drier layer of ultramarine.

Careful, careful...too many mistakes for my liking. I should have done the stripes last but it's too late now. Oh well. Lazy, sloppy, but when was I serious?

A background color. Yellow ochre seems best, it sets off my skin tone and contrasts the blues. Work it in with my fingers. Besides clean up and what not. Well that was fun...it might deserve a crappy cellcam foto.

Yup...that's it...it's so grand right? Check out the real vs the ideal. My head needs to be rounder and the reason my fro is so big is probably because it just goes off the paper. It does look awful Angela Davis like so what's that say about me I wonder, and who I idolize? Ya think?

I dunno, I can still recognize it as me. I'd like to try another some time and get it closer to the real...I have to admit that the tichel is throwing me off severely just because it lacks depth.

Check out the brush strokes. I think I force myself to be impressionistic sometimes.

1 comment:

Please share some knowledge. Or amuse me at least :O