I tend to have several paintings on the go at once, this serves the purpose of giving me something to work on while I am waiting for a layer to dry in another painting. But it is also because my mind wanders easily and when I have an idea or stumble across some thing that I want to paint I find it very hard not to start straight away!
Two such paintings that fit into the category of “had a thought had to paint it” are a couple of self portraits that I started a few weeks ago. The initial idea cam from a painting I did of Arya Stark, it worked well so I thought I would do some more in the same sort of style, as you can see from the work in progress photos below, this is not how it turned out. The first difference was that I decided to paint on canvas (something that I don’t usually do because I don’t like the rough texture of the surface, it doesn't lend it self to detail, but that’s a whole other topic in it self!).
My paintings start by drawing out the face in pencil onto the canvas, I also mark out areas of highlight and shadow so it can look a bit weird at this stage! Normally I would paint the background colour or something similar first to get rid on any white areas on the canvas, this helps to see how the colours work together, but on this occasion I went straight into painting the face. I’m not sure why, I probably didn’t want to wait for the background to dry before I could get started, sometimes the hardest part about painting is waiting to do the next bit!
When I did put a background colour in I went for black as the intention was to mimic the Arya portrait, however this wasn’t really working for me and I thought of giving up on the idea altogether until I decided to play around with it. I could be much freer now that I had already decided to give up on it, it didn’t matter if I ruined it and I wasn’t constrained by trying to achieve a certain look or feel. I went with a strong blue background because I bought this paint a while a go and have been meaning to use it ever since I saw “Girl From Tate” by Simon Davis at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition in 2018. The bright background really stood out from across the gallery, you can view the painting here but it doesn’t really have the same effect as seeing it in person. The change of colour totally changed how I saw the painting and gave me much more freedom to play with the colours. The whole painting process became much more organic with me following where the painting naturally wanted to go rather than dictating and trying to push things in a certain direction.
The second painting is still a work in progress so we’ll have to wait and see where it ends up!