Thursday night in my Contemporary Portraits class, I decided to Go Big. On a panel of 20 inches by 16, I filled all the available space with my model’s head. Supersized. Bigger than life.
I started out with some idea of using the palette knife, but found that when covering a whole lot of canvas, a big brush is more efficient. Then I found that I liked the big brush strokes as well. The image becomes almost pixelated as a result. (What word would I have found to describe that effect if we hadn’t got “pixelated” from the computer industry?) You can probably tell I also deployed the knife here and there.
I am struck by the fact that, with the bigger format and the bigger brush, it was easy to forego the details. Puzzling. You would expect that the larger the format, the easier (in my case, read “more tempting”) it would be to paint in details like eyelashes. The big brush must be the key. I am now eager to find out what will happen if I deploy the big brush on a smaller panel.
However, this revelation did not come to me until just now, so when I set up for my Sunday painting, I chose the palette knife for a small, 11×14 surface. First, I should explain that our model and pose has not changed for three weeks. I already have two paintings done from that pose, which you can examine in the last two blogs. The first was whole body. The second was head and chest. So Sunday I closed in even farther, thinking to replicate in miniature the big-head experience from Thursday.
Interesting how you can see practically every scrape of the knife in this photo. It looks so much more impressive online than the original painting. I think that’s because you can’t tell online how large the actual painting is. Or in this case, how small.
By studying this image and the following ones, I finally figured out what was bothering me about this painting. The nose is too narrow–way too narrow. So I am going to have to fix that soon, before all the thick paint dries.
Last week I talked about how much I admired Bill Turner’s treatment of the blouse on our model, so this week I am providing the proof that was missing last week. Here is Bill’s portrait, still not finished but I hope he doesn’t touch the blouse!
And yes, I have to admit, the arm and elbow are pretty special too.
While I am sharing the works of other painters, I know you will enjoy this version of Becky, which was also still a work in progress when I snapped this picture:
Bea’s specialty is the eyes. She always paints spectacular eyes, and gets fantastic colors in the skin tones.
Note that the color of the hat in both of these versions of Becky. Now compare the color of the hat in my version:
I started out painting a black hat until Cameron told me the hat was green. Although close up it was clearly more green than black, I could not see the green when the hat was on Becky’s head and under the spotlight. (I hear cataracts affect color perception, so maybe it is time for eye surgery.) We don’t have to match the local color if our muse takes us in a different direction, but in this case, I was OK with imagining the green. My blouse color, being more green than the other two, was a deliberate choice.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Gallery at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.
Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com