Tag Archives: Portraiture

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.

Portraiture – Natalie

This weekend I finally got to get going on some of the stuff I talked to T. Chris about a week or so ago. Last night I had Maggie sit for me so that I could paint her. I painted her for about an hour and a half to try and get the bulk of the imprimatura done. Basically, the imprimatura is the sketch and toning layer of an oil painting. I first lay down a solid base color (this time I chose cadmium red with a hint of Venetian red to produce the warm pink color which underlies Maggie’s skin tone) by spreading thinned down paint with either a large brush, a paper towel, or a mixture of the two until I have an even medium to light shade covering the entirety of the canvas. Continue reading

Headway at the homestretch – Lauren Bowers

I never imagined my portraiture project to take such a fantastic turn as it has in the past few weeks. As the first quarter of the year wraps up, I can’t help but feel like the sudden lurch in progress can only foreshadow the the remaining months of the project. At this point, I feel like I have finally found my niche in artistry. Model sessions run smoothly as I develop my process, I’m comfortable in my mediums and exploring more, and constantly sketching to create fluid ideas. I found myself working with watercolor more than anything. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the medium, and I’ve come to appreciate the end products which it produces.

"Sara"  Watercolor and Arches watercolor paper

Watercolor and Arches watercolor paper

"Caroline" Watercolor on arches watercolor paper

Watercolor on arches watercolor paper

In addition to watercolor portraits, I did one finalized charcoal drawing last over the weekend. Though I’ve tried to stray away from charcoal for the sake of growth, there are certain situations where it is just the most appropriate medium. This was a drawing in which I had a limited amount of time, and a model whose features screamed charcoal. Though it is still a work in progress, the basis for a solid foundational drawing is there.

"Sam" Vine/compressed/Pencil charcoal and Pastel on charcoal paper

Vine/compressed/Pencil charcoal and Pastel on charcoal paper

I believe my progression in work is not limited to the fact that I now have model cooperation. My mentor has played a large part in the development of my project. As we meet bi-weekly, the advice I receive from her predicts the actions of the week to follow. Last week T. Caroline and I agreed that my work can sometimes lack the physical context required for portraiture. As an attempt to give me the conditions I need, she recommended I start doing very basic, quick sketches which focus on the way the figure appears in space rather than the accuracy of the figure itself. In response I have been sketching constantly, trying to grasp the way humans move through their surrounding space. She’s also been suggesting artists to observe, one of them being Lucy gans. (you can see here website here). She is a teacher at Lehigh University and works extensively in portraiture with printmaking and instillation.

"Orchid Study #1"  Pencil on paper

“Orchid Study #1”
Pencil on paper


Humans aren’t the only thing I’m sketching. I find that I end up sketching whenever I have the time to. For example, this sketch of two orchid was done in a spare 30 minutes I had on monday. I keep orchids in my room, and they were what was immediately available. I hope to be able to share more sketches comfortably in the future.




I’m working with T. Caroline to make oil paint possible. The more I work with watercolor, the more I want to return to oil and re-explore it as a medium

There are still prints in the works which I will be continually developing. My mentor and I have been discussing different techniques which might be more interesting. I’m very keen on starting a few drypoint etchings which can be worked into with watercolor.

Photography will hopefully be happening soon.

Inquiry in artistry – Lauren

Someone once told me all art was theft. Now, take that with whatever grain of salt you so please, but I took said advice to heart. Research is an essential part of artistry. Despite apparently common belief, artists don’t just pull their work technique out of their ass. For most of us, technique is what defines us. How we do our work is who we are, and we learn who we want to be through others. Continue reading