Who doesn’t want to live forever? I thought it was time, before my delightful hubby and I get too wrinkled to attempt a portrait of ourselves. I love Lucian Freud’s work and think he was incredibly skilled but I didn’t want to wait until we are like this self-portrait he did that can be seen in Vienna. I of course then had to watch a video about him and his art, and found he was a great fan of Cremnitz White, which I have on order. This is a lead based white paint, so don’t eat in your studio while using it. The video I watched on Lucian Freud can be found on YouTube here: A Painted Life I love the emotion he conveys although he obviously was a haunted and tortured individual who didn’t play well with others.
Back to my painting. My husband and I went out to our favorite French restaurant and dressed up for an anniversary one of the staff took a fabulous photo of us. I decided to use that as my reference photo, along with peeking over my wine glass at dinner, an assessing, did dear hubby have a few little crows feet, how did the cleft of his chin look in profile?
A book I referred to was
This year, I used a marble based gesso to cover my boards. The white is so white it hurts your eyes. If you are just tuning in you might want to read my post on Mischtechnik.
Next I spent a fair bit of time looking and reading about the anatomy of the face and neck. And then spent a couple of weeks on an initial sketch.
And here is the initial glaze, I used iron oxide red. It was still wet in this photo.
Meanwhile, as I wait for this to dry, I’m reading another book and learning even more about portrait painting. It has an excellent section on blending colors for the skin. I’m only half-way through, but I’m sure this will be a better painting because of it.
Portrait Painting Atelier: Old Master Techniques and Contemporary Applications
by Suzanne Brooker
The next step, after it was fully dried, was to work on the highlights creating more tones, with the egg tempera. I freely thinned the egg tempera with a little cold pressed linseed oil, so I could have different shades of white. Some I used undiluted and some thinned.
And of course wait. I usually keep a second painting going and work on that while I’m waiting. This year its a semi-abstract in acrylic paint that has lots of free movement and invention and dries fast. The antithesis of this.
Another glaze, this time I used transparent yellow ochre. In the past I used a bright primary transparent yellow, but I like the warmer tones of the earth reds and yellows.
Ah, finally we are starting to see some of those magic mid-tones arise out of nowhere. I had on a top that was covered in black sparkles and I want to show that, but I’m not sure whether I have a handle on it. I have a few points of light on it, but I’m not sure if they work yet.
Here is the white tempera on the highlights after this glaze.
Now the blue glaze.
Technically I should do another layer of the white highlights, but I like where I am. I am going to start glazing local colors as soon as this dries. Oops…I forgot to take photos of a couple of glazes. Don’t worry you didn’t miss much, just the first coat on the walls, shirt and shawl.