Minna Stevens - a triptych
An abundance of portraits
The project with Minna Stevens was to produce a triptych of portraits, in the same pose. She encourages this approach because of additional learning about form as well as the additional artistic opportunity running between the three images. She shows herself as a triptych on her website, where she has a range of beautiful pictures, www.minnastevens.com.
There were several key things that I took away from the project. First, is the possibility of finding form through the use of colour temperature, rather than relying on tone. An increasing number of artists take that approach and it’s a bit of a hallmark of people from Heatherley’s. I’m not sure that it is really me but its certainly helps create great beauty in subtle images. (Have a look at Tony Rothon’s work as well). As light falls across the face there are typical temperatures. In north facing light, the highlight will be cold/blue, light parts of the skin will often be warm, reflecting the local colour of the skin, the half tones where the face turns towards the shadows, cool again and full darks generally warm. Taking colour as the central focus of this project, it is essential (probably so even in a tonal picture) to use clean colour mixes only as the basis ( ie 2 pigments) for each mix, then to tone down the saturation as needed. Starting with less saturated colours to mix can lead to colours that are very dirty. She also takes a useful approach to building up the likeness by focusing on building up the large structures of the head first, allowing the detailed features to naturally come to the right place.
I enjoyed working on these pictures despite the fact that the scale was far smaller than I usually prefer. I have a tendency to over use cool colours, but this project helped me get away form that. Theresa held strong and elongated posture throughout which is reflected in the pictures.