I met a very quirky 76 year-old woman artist who has made her home, her car and her self into a wonderful, crazy work of art. I’ll share more about her next time, but today wanted to post this self-portrat she inspired.
I’d been feeling discouraged about oil painting after doing a terrible plein air painting on Saturday but meeting that woman on my walk today, I was inspired to braid my hair and decorate myself with make up and do a self portrait in oils.
I started by setting up a mirror but found it awkward to paint while having to keep looking in a mirror to my right and making the same face. So I took photos, shooting into the mirror, and then displayed the best one on my computer monitor and worked from that. Here’s the photo I used:
I started by drawing with white pastel pencil on an already toned canvas (actually a reused canvas: the first painting I did when I picked up oils a year or so ago — a portrait of my sister that was so terrible that I scraped it and covered it in a warm brown oil paint to be used again). I like sketching with a pastel pencil because it rubs off easily from a primed canvas and disappears into the oil paint without streaking or smearing.
Then I photographed the drawing bove and pasted the image as another layer in Photoshop on top of the reference photo, adjusting the new layer to 60% opacity. That allowed me to see where my drawing was off and make the adjustments on my canvas. You can see in the overlay below that I’d missed in many places, despite my attempt at accuracy.
I’ve learned the hard way that an incorrect drawing just leads to a bad painting. I could have just enlarged the photo and traced it right onto my canvas, but I love drawing and wanted the challenge of drawing myself somewhat accurately. I think the final painting does look a bit like me and it was definitely fun to do.
I’m going to wear my hair like this to work tomorrow. And I’m not going to give up oils.