Oil on canvas panel, 12×9″ (Larger)
I had a fun dream that I was on a date with Jack Nicholson so the next day I decided to paint his portrait. (I wouldn’t really want to date him–I think he’s scary but fascinating.) I downloaded some photos from the web, picked this one and set it up on my computer monitor.
In Photoshop I cropped the photo to 12″x9″ to make it the same proportions as my canvas and then set Photoshop’s grid to divided the image into thirds. Then with charcoal I drew the same grid on my canvas panel (dividing it into 9 rectangles). That made it easier to correctly sketch in the shapes that make up the face.
Here’s the set up with the painting nearly done. It so great to be able to work from the monitor instead of a printed photo though it still can’t compare to working from life:
(Larger) (Alison and Pete your artwork is visible on my bulletin board, along with some other inspiring artists’ work)
When I thought I was done, I looked at both images in a mirror and saw a bunch of problems that needed fixing. I flipped the photo 180 degrees in Photoshop and turned the painting upside down too. That made it easier to spot and corrent problems as shapes instead of facial features which is harder. I wasn’t going for a perfect finished portrait, but rather was trying to have fun and continue practicing with oils.
While I was working was listening to a historical novel about Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the making of his famous painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party (my favorite impressionist painting of all time–it made me cry when I saw it in person). I’m enjoying Susan Vreeland’s book of the same name, but I can’t imagine a non-artist enjoying it as much, since it goes into great detail about colors, composition, art theory, and the struggles and joys of painting from life.
Here are a couple of great quotes by Renoir that I really loved:
“I always paint from life and never paint anything I don’t enjoy.”
“I make it a rule never to paint except out of pleasure.”