Monthly Archives: April 2011

Atul’s Life painting

Life in a Blue chair

This was an enjoyable life portrait painting project with Atul Vohora ( who also teaches at the Slade school and is published in Artists and Illustrators magazine).The project was set up with a focus on a strong visual relationship with the back ground colours and interesting physical structure. Of the two set ups, I choose this one, which had more foreshortening, a very strong warm/cold contrast and a strong sense of the light flooding across the figure and chair.

I had to work quickly because I missed 3 days of the project, it is a bit more rushed than I would have liked, which the picture echoes. In the last few projects I have been working with more layers and under painting than I used to. In this painting I overcame the problem of the texture of the under layers adversely effecting the top layer by scraping the layers back. Traditionally the under layers would be thinned, which i do not do because of the toxicity of the thinners. However, it did work well for me and I will continue with this approach. I also worked with some more less saturated colour than I usually do, which was helpful. It makes the more saturated colours come out more strongly and helps with the sense of depth in the picture.

Overall, I like the picture, which seems to balance my usual love of bright and more differentiated marks with the need, in this case, of making a reasonably realistic image.

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My self portrait

Working over a mirror 2

This is a reworking of a self portrait idea that I started with last year. I felt that there was more to be got by working with it again.

I like the idea and angle of perspective, as well as the resulting composition. I have always been attracted to breaking the conventional moulds of portrait composition. In our daily life we see people from all sorts of different angles that are not generally examined in the world of portraiture. I find that this one implies a solidity, an honest workman like approach which suits the way I see the world and perhaps myself.

The contrast between the solidity of the seat, legs and torso, with the etherial sense that surrounds the brush and canvas, almost as if the paint is floating off the brush appeals to me. It reminds me that the contrast between what can be achieved with pure earth colours and the Viridian/Alizarin axis is interesting and something that I would like to explore more.

It is also interesting to see how I have developed in the last 8 months by comparing this to the earlier entry ‘portrait over a mirror’.

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Daniel Shadbolt – heads

Lying Down Head Portrait

This project was focused on painting head closeups, led by Daniel Shadbolt. Daniel was the winner of the Bulldog Bursary in 2008 and you can see examples of his work at His style of work and teaching approach is to focus on a searching, objective examination of the subject, with small and sometimes thin marks gradually building towards an image. The process of the search is up front in the work. To me his work brings to mind Cezanne, which is a great compliment.

I struggled in this project feeling less at ease with the style of approach than some others. On the other hand I can comfortably say it was a good learning experience, giving me a taste of an approach that is very different from my usual one. Others in the class thrived on it. In fact one of the works from this project, done by Mark Stevenson, was selected in open competition for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition.

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