How on Earth – Natalie

This past week I ran into a pretty big issue that may take a little time to resolve, it’s honestly pretty embarrassing to me but I’ll just go ahead and put it out there: I don’t remember how to paint portraits. Imprimaturas? Fine and good. But actually putting color on the canvas to resemble skin tone, depth, shape, and shadow? I’m having a harder time getting back into it that I thought I would. When I actually think about it, it’s been probably about two years since I last painted a portrait. Here’s the comparison between my two year old portrait (still unfinished) and my progress on the Maggie one:

It’ll come along, I just need to take some uninterrupted time to sit and work on it. I’m thinking of playing up some of the yellow highlights, like it appears in my reference photo. I do like how the eye is coming, though.

This past weekend, I began the process of migrating all of my portfolio works over from home to Westtown, so that I can begin photographing them properly to upload into my college applications. I have an email into T. Chris Willis to set up a time to meet about beginning this photographing process. I also need to contact T. Joyce Nagata about photographing my pottery. I’ve found two good articles on photographing paintings here and here. It looks like I may also need to contact T. Sarah Sullivan about setting up some lights with gel filters to balance color.

In looking ahead, I have some ideas for new paintings. I know I don’t want to stick solely to portraiture and abstract and fantasy separately, but rather I would like to merge the three to start to string together a coherent body of work. I am still mulling over how I will do this with the Maggie painting, but I am thinking of pulling in some elements of my floating amoebas with abstract tendrils of paint and a focus on mixing color.

Next, I am planning on doing a self portrait with poison ivy and a spider-slug. I know, I know. You’re wondering about the poison ivy. Well, in addition to gathering up portfolio pieces over the weekend, I also waged an itchy and exhausting battle against the poison ivy covering my arms, torso, and yes, even my face. I did, however, get some pretty gnarly shots of my eye all swelled up, and I thought it might make for some interesting and out of the ordinary subject matter (like the grotesque work of Jenny Saville which I mentioned in an earlier post). I also am looking to start bringing my creatures into realism, and what better way to do so than with a spider-slug on my head?

I am toying with the notion of doing a series of portraits of my friends, all playing with the abstract and fantastical. I think I will consult T. Chris Willis on this, but I am feeling hopeful. This weekend I will be staying at school and am planning on holing myself up in the studio to get some actual work done. Hopefully, I will be able to finish or get closer to finished on the Maggie painting, and begin the self-portrait.

5 thoughts on “How on Earth – Natalie

  1. Gwyneth Turner

    Even though you say that you have had a difficult time adding color to your portrait of Maggie, I think it is coming along fantastically! I can’t wait to see how you end up incorporating fantasy elements into the piece. Also, I love the idea of painting yourself with poison ivy. What a great way to turn a miserable experience into creative work!

  2. trayhammond

    Wow, as someone who commented on your post from a few weeks ago, I have to say that you’ve made some amazing progress! I’m really fascinated by your interest in the grotesque. I think it’s pretty cool that you are deviating from the “normal”. I honestly thought the red canvas of Maggie was the finished product at first! Could I have been more wrong? Great work!

  3. mikehyojan

    Although you said that it has been two years since you last painted a portrait, your paintings are amazing! Just by looking at the paintings at first before reading your text, I was certain that it was Maggie! Awesome work!

  4. kevinwang11

    This is very impressive work! I was attracted to this post by your feature image. I, too, originally thought that the red canvas with Maggie’s portrait was already a finished product…

    p.s. I am also working with poison ivy (but in a completely different sphere).

  5. alecbarbs

    It’s amazing to see that even with that time frame between your portraits, that your hand still finds its way to capture life beautifully. I find it interesting how when you’re doing something you absolutely love, even with huge breaks between doing them, you never forget how the process works. I will be intrigued to see the finished process of your current work and others to come.


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