I’m not great at portraits, especially from photographs. But it made a change from printing and I found this old photo buried in my “archives”. Hard pastel on pastelmat paper, which I have never used before. A bit odd as a surface.
We have been drawing pastel portraits in our life class this week. I enjoy portraiture and am quite pleased with these. Eyes are difficult. Especially when the model kept nodding off. My main problem is what to do with them. I don’t really want pictures of people I don’t know hanging on the wall.
Today’s watercolour class was cancelled as the tutor was ill. We were offered a place on a portrait class which was going on in another room. I was the only one who did it, the others all just went home. I’m not great at portraits, but it was fun, and it is always good to experience another teacher. I was quite pleased with this follow on from my Degas of yesterday. It shows that your technique needs to be consistent. Her jumper doesn’t go with her head.
Back at the week;y watercolour classes. They’ve been running fro four weeks, but I haven’t really liked anything I have produced so far, until now. We were doing portraits, which is not my strong point, and I have never done them in watercolour before. But this third, very quick one (about 15 minutes) was not too bad. I feel it is still a bit wishy washy, which is a problem in watercolour. I think it might be improved with some over working in pastel to give a bit more depth. The model is excellent, someone who I have drawn many times in life classes. She laughed and said it must be odd to draw her with her clothes on. I kept a polite silence.
I need to start looking at another artist, but it is true that if you try to carefully copy another artist’s work, you really start to see things you couldn’t notice before. These four small portraits will do for now.
The one of Berthe Morisot (top right) is by far the best. Also the quickest, taking less than an hour and no reworking at all. The soldier was very hard, and I still can’t figure out what is wrong with him. I have repainted the bar maid’s face completely, but she is still awkward. Olympia looks a little harsh. I have reworked her face two or three times and it is OK. Interestingly, my phone camera recognises Olympia and Berthe as faces, but not the other two. Not sure what a mark of quality that is.
I have always admired Manet’s paintings, although he did produce some rubbish. Everyone’s entitled to a bad day now and then. I need to improve my portraiture, so copying some of Manet’s is a good place to start. I learn more this way than I ever do from books.
First go is with the bar maid in the Folie Berge, which I have seen in London several times over the years. Sad looking girl. First stage is a rough charcoal sketch, which is then blocked in with thin acrylic.
Then it was a question of really trying to copy the colours and shapes as closely as possible.
I’m quite pleased, although I have got her whole head a bit elongated and she looks like she has been dribbling grape juice down her chin.
The whole picture would be more of a challenge…