It's all done and I'm extremely proud of this self portrait. It took me 5 days which is pretty fast, even for me. I just signed it today and photographed it for my website. I'm going to wait until it's fully dry before I varnish it.
One tip that I read somewhere a long time ago is that you should photograph your painting before you put any varnish on it. The main reason for that is to avoid a glossy glare which the varnish adds to a photo. I've tried to photograph oil painting after varnishing them and it's extremely difficult.
I also think that the varnish is really only a benefit when viewing the painting in person; the purpose of varnish is to make the dry colors come back to life, but that doesn't seem to matter in a photograph anyway. So, in a photograph, it doesn't matter whether the colors are dry and sunken or not.
This portrait is progressing really nicely! I think 1-2 more days of work on it until it's all done. As a side note, I've removed titanium white on my palette. I removed it because I feel that the pigment is too powerful.
Also, my medium right now is:
-1 ounce dammar varnish
-1 ounce stand oil
-5 ounces Gamsol
- 15-20 drops of cobalt drier
It's a good all around oil paint medium and dries quickly also!
I haven't painted a landscape in a while so I decided to begin a small painting/portrait of my house. It'll be a nice painting to have when I'm older to remember my childhood home. I'm working with a new medium and a very traditional basic palette which I'm much happier with. I'll write another post that goes into detail about my new medium and palette.
I'm very proud of the progression of this portrait. It's not done yet, but it's getting close. I'll probably adjust the background a bit more and add some minor details only. My entire goal with this portrait was to capture the spirit of my girlfriend at this point in her life. I believe that's the highest function of art; to freeze a moment and feeling in time as effectively as I can as a painter.
I've always loved drawing and painting portraits and I also wanted to share some insight into the portrait painting process. To capture a portrait, it really comes down to very subtle proportions. You have to ask questions like: How big is the space between the eyes? how wide is the nose? how do the eyes crease with a smile? Etc. There's an endless amount of questions to ask and answer as you paint. Be as careful as you possibly can and never be afraid to adjust something if it doesn't feel right.
For skin tones, one of my tips is to avoid a lot of white. You can use white, but sparingly. White is a tricky pigment because you could easily bleach out the skin. You can use Naples yellow mixed into your white if you find your skin looking pale and chalky.
I love using backgrounds with portraits and if you choose a background with foliage, like in the portrait below, then remember to keep it more toned down than you think. You want the focus to be on the figure and the background to be an accent.
Hopefully those tips help anyone interested in portraiture. I'll be finishing this portrait soon so stay tuned..