In Search of Creating Powerful Portrait Paintings
Have you ever noticed that the pace of our lives is kind of like the seasons?
There are times when we are in full “go-mode”, creating, travelling, collaborating, building. I think I would compare go-mode to the spring and summer seasons.
Then there are times where we are more introspective, and the days slow down, perhaps we return to learning, reading, pondering, planning. Though these cycles don’t always coincide with the literal seasons, many times they do. I think that I am finding myself in one of the slower seasons. The days are colder, and I am outside less, which gives me more time inside and creating paintings in my studio. I am also traveling less, and I find myself going deeper within and having more inspirational ideas for my art. With that comes the desire to learn new ways of expressing emotion in my portrait paintings.
My Secret Experiments Using Techniques From Other Artists
For the next few months, I will be experimenting and following the techniques of other artists, to both improve my skills as a portrait and figure artist, discover new ways to tell my stories, and create paintings with meaning.
This week I painted along with Casey Baugh, a contemporary portrait painting artist who began using charcoal at the age of 13 and has perfected his skill of interpreting the human form through charcoal and paint.
Watch this time-lapse video to see me follow one of Casey’s paintings and listen to some of the musings of my mind while I’m creating an oil portrait painting.
Watch My Time-lapse Video of the Portrait Painting Experiment Below
Creating Paintings With Meaning
When I paint a portrait or figure painting, it is just as much about the meaning behind the piece as it is the technique. My goal is to capture the essence of a person during a certain moment in time.
What colors will I choose to tell the story of each person I paint? Will they be light and airy, or dark and foreboding? If I choose darker tones, will I still create light landing on the features in a way that speaks of hope.
Brushstrokes can also be quick and edgy to express motion or impulsive feelings. Or they can be blended to soften the look conveying peace and stillness.
There is so much that fascinates me about the human face. Things that we pick up on in our everyday interactions without even realizing it. The direction of the eye, an upturned corner of the mouth, a creased brow. One little change and the whole portrait can take on a different emotion, or even end up looking like another person completely.
I was fascinated with the way Casey casually blocked in large sections of dark, light and basic color, looking for tone and value, before being concerned with detail. I feel that this manner of creating a painting creates a more contemporary portrait. I know that I will definitely be using this oil painting technique in future pieces.