This portrait was an experiment in loosening up and letting the brush strokes show. It didn’t look very promising at first, but I persisted. In hindsight, the colors I mixed were too brown/green tinted and the result looks a bit muddled. I should have started with “normal” skin tones and adjusted their hues more subtly from there. Also, the overall values of the skin tones are too dark. I learned a lot of good lessons from this one and plan to apply them to the next painting.
This is my second self portrait and it was a challenging one. I made a lot of mistakes and learned some good lessons:
Use a smaller canvas when you’re painting something that is new or challenging for you. I chose a rather large (for me) 16″x20″ canvas for this project.. As a result, all of my mistakes took so much longer to fix which was frustrating. Also, having to fill so much canvas real estate meant that the painting took me four days to complete. By the end of the painting, I was at the end of my patience and didn’t have the drive to fix some of the remaining defects.
Take the time to mix your skin colors correctly. It’s better to spend an extra 20 minutes getting it right than to spend an extra 1-2 hours fixing it later.
When roughing in the dark colors for the underpainting, make your edges soft. Also, be careful not to make areas too dark as you can end up fighting to lighten them later. Water down your burnt umber (or whatever paint your using) to make areas lighter.
My hope is that, as I practice more and gain more skill, I can start moving from realistic depictions to more painterly representations. In the future, I would like to produce the above image as an underpainting on which I can build from to create a bolder finished product. However, at my current skill level, I’m ecstatic to be able to produce this.
Here’s a short video showing the different stages of the painting: