Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Portrait Journey

The eyes shown in this post are from new collection of watercolour portraits I've been working on.

The eyes are almost always the first part I paint in any portrait. They are the soul of each person and the life of a painting, if I don't capture the feelings behind them, then I don't carry on with the painting, I start a fresh.

Whilst working on this new collection I knew I needed to push myself to achieve that extra something i'm always looking for each time I pick up my brush. This is part of the inspiration that keeps me painting.

As artists we need to grow continuously and we can only do this by experimenting and practice. It doesn't always result in a beautifully executed paintings, but that's the way we learn, and it all becomes part of the journey. No painting is ever a waste of time, quite the opposite, as we often learn more from our so called mistakes.  

For a long while I painted a variety of subjects, very often avoiding portraits, with an impression they were much to difficult for me, although I tried the occasional sketch from time to time.  It was mainly after the birth of my first  grandchild that I had the real desire to paint them. As artists we often change direction on our journey, enjoying various subjects along the way. Somewhere along that road most of us get drawn to a particular subject, one we really enjoy painting more than any other, one we feel more passionate about and become more inspired by, for me that subject is portraits.

As I have never had any formal training and am entirely self taught when it comes to portraits, it really has been down to lots of practice and experimenting, and most importantly the desire to paint them. I have however watched the endless free videos on Youtube that are so generously given by artists of all levels and will always be grateful for those who share them.

I would say the biggest help to me has been the studying of features done mostly by pencil artists.I can't stress enough how drawing skills comes in to play.  Becoming more comfortable with the understanding of a feature such as the eyes, along with being able to draw them reasonably well each time, leaves your mind free to paint and bring them to life. 

Practice painting just the features on scrap paper until you become more familiar with them, you'll be surprised the benefit of this when it comes to painting a complete portrait. Draw daily, even 5 min sketches and doodles, it all helps. I know I have a long way to go still and probably always will, but whenever possible I practice daily, even if only a quick sketch, and I can't tell you how much this has helped me. ....

I've written this partly as i've been asked many times how I got started in portraits, along with hearing so many other artists say, as I once did, how scared they were to attempt them and how difficult they are. They are no different to any other subject. All you need is the desire to paint them along with the discipline to practice. I don't think there is any subject more rewarding than this to paint.
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