Jayden’s portrait

Jayden’s portrait

After spending Jayden’s birthday with him, I decided that the next thing to do in the studio might be a portrait  of him.  As you might know, I rarely to portraits of people, but I thought this might be an exception.  I have done self portraits and a few of my kids with their pets, but that is about all.  I’ve never accepted a commission for one, even though I’ve been asked.  People are hard and while I can experiment on my own and have it wnd up in the circular file, I am not confident enough to accept outside work where someone is counting on it as a gift or remembrance.

I feel okay about this.  It’s not great, but it’s not too bad.  The mouth seems a bit off to me.  Sometimes that’s what happens.  I may try again next year around his birthday again.

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.

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.

And now for something completely different……

Pencil-up of the portrait

Pencil-up of the portrait

Several months ago, as you know, I decided to work again with the acrylic paints after a break of probably 25 years.  I had been thinking about it for some time earlier, but watching the British show “Portrait Artist of the Year” really inspired me to take the next step.  After the first set if paintings I have chronicled – both successful and unsuccessful – the thought came to me that perhaps I should attempt my own self portrait.  This is not as easy as it might seem, regardless of whether the portrait will be good or not, because I take terrible pictures when I know the camera is on me.  I sifted through decades of photos for which, unfortunately, I am the major photographer and therefore not in.  And the ones I am in rarely do me any kind of justice.  In fact, they are usually pretty awful.

Preliminary underpainting

Preliminary underpainting

Finally I settle on one from my wedding day.  It’s a fairly simple, candid shot of me looking over my shoulder as we drive away in my little silver pinto.  I like the picture because I am not looking directly at the camera, but just over my shoulder.  Time will tell how it turns out, but I already know the mouth is going to be hard.