I think I am done with these

Old me

Old me

I have fiddled around with both of the 2 self portraits for the last 2 weeks and I am ready to quit.  After I let them sit for a few days, I kept seeing things I wanted to change.  I think they are about as good as I am going to get them right now. They are not great but, really, for my first attempts in many years to use acrylics, let alone portraits, I am pretty pleased.

I think the mouth on both of them still needs work, but right now, I can’t see what else to do.  I widened it in both pictures because it just seemed too small for me.  I do have a wide mouth and it seemed pinched in.  I am also getting some gray in my hair but not too much yet (thanks Dad) on the later one.  Hooray for spiral perms too as I really have poker straight hair.

Young me

Young me

I am thinking about heading back for some ink work next.  I have been getting a little itch to get out the pen and draw again.  On a sad note, my 10.5 year old but useful laptop where I edited all of my pictures for publication so easily decided to kick the bucket yesterday.  Dang you Word 13 for not including photo manager anymore for this computer.  It was an easy photo editor for me  to use and now have have to actually figure out Elements.  Yikes, another time suck.

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Me – two

Pencil drawing

Pencil drawing

After I finished the last self portrait, I thought maybe another one of an older me was in order.  I had to look through quite a few albums and photos (yes, I do have actual albums and printed photos in this day and age) to find something remotely usable.  I decided this one wasn’t totally embarrassing.

I decided to use a little bit of an underglaze this time around to soften the white gesso of the canvas.  In the series of acrylic paintings I have done, it has often been hard to get rid of the last traces of the white underlayment when I am almost finished without marring some of what I have already done.  The trick was to get enough color down without covering up the drawing too much.  I don’t know if it is better to glaze over the pencil drawing or draw over the glaze, but I drew first and then glazed prior to the actual painting.

Start of the acrylics

Start of the acrylics

I consider this to be my initial underglaze as I tried to cover all of the canvas with some color.  So far, I have found the mouth and teeth to be the hardest part.  I have a a wide mouth and it is not easy to make it big enough, but not turn it into a clown smile.  Surprisingly, the eyes haven’t posed nearly as much of a problem.

Just about done.

Almost done

Almost done

Are you tired of this yet?  Well, it’s just about finished.  I reworked the face the last session, softening the eyes and mouth.  The lower part of my face was too gray, so I tried to make it pinker but now it is a bit too white.  I am pale, but not quite that pale.  I am fairly happy with the eyes and may only touch up the nose a bit on the left.  The mouth is okay and I may just leave everything except to make the cheeks and chin a little more peachy pink.

All in all, I’m not unhappy with this effort.  I am using a 38 year old instamatic photo of me less than an inch square and enlarged with my copier for a grainy reference.  This is my first acrylic portrait since just one I did in college so the whole thing has been quite the experiment.

I’m debating using something more recent and trying again.  It actually has been kind of fun.  It is odd to barely recognize my younger self, although many have commented I still look a lot the same.  The question remains whether I can find a suitable picture because I am NOT looking in the mirror to do it.

Session three

It's coming along

It’s coming along

Well, it’s getting there. I’m not quite happy with the eyes and mouth, but it is still just good enough to continue.  The eye level  is uneven and the pupils are not quite the same size.  I actually like the previous effort better, but I think it is fixable.  I have let it sit for 4-5 days and now can see it a bit more clearly.

The colors and shading are better than the photo shows, but it is good to see it this way because it accentuates the problems.  I am more encouraged when I look at the real thing.  It’s just doesn’t seem quite worth the time to totally fix up the photo for the preliminary work.  I’d rather work on the real thing.  I will fix up the final picture as best I can so you can see a better version.

Second painting session

Second sitting

Second sitting

Well, so far it’s not too bad. In fact, it’s going well enough that now I am concerned about “ruining” it.  As typical for me, it is better on the board than it shows up here, with the colors being somewhat softer and better blended.  I need to consider how detailed to get, especially for the eyes and mouth.  The eyes are a little bit off and I have to figure out the teeth, but it is an acceptable start.

I chose a mossy green background and I think it goes well with my brown hair.  Better than the car seatback, don’t you think?  My top was a floral print that kind of matched my skin tone and I think I’ll keep it for now.  The flowers are pastellish so they won’t compete much with the overall painting.

It has sat for a day or two, so now I can see it with fresh eyes.  Still okay, but I need to get my courage up and get on with the painting.