Last week I posted about a custom art portrait I have been working on for my neighbor. It is a group portrait and has it ever been challenging! It is like painting three separate paintings rather than just one painting. What I didn’t share in last week’s post was how difficult it has been to finish this project, which I feel has been dragging. Although the project started out to be deceptively simple, with the colors and the drawing coming together in a few days, once I got to the smaller version of the painting, the trouble began.
I discovered that working small on a 5 x 7 canvas was extremely challenging. I am used to working on medium sized canvases of about a 9 x 12 size and using large brushes, either a one inch flat or a 2 inch bright. For this project, I have had to use tiny brushes and it has made it take all the longer to complete. Also, working in acrylic rather than oil has been really difficult because the paint keeps drying faster than I would like and I have to keep squeezing out more of it and spritzing it with water or adding slow dry medium to the paint. When the paint dries too fast, I get really hard edges which aren’t good. I’m worried that this project might fall into the realm of being overworked if I am not careful, but I want both the client and myself to be happy. So far, neither of us are. I’ve set a deadline for myself and I hope that works! Yesterday I painted out the middle person’s face in frustration because the proportions were off and the paint values seemed to have been too dark. So I am starting from scratch with the middle figure’s face. I re-measured the head and drew a new oval and repainted the whole in flesh tone.
In an effort to finish this painting by the deadline, I have been scheduling in time to work on it every week, and have been taking pictures of it after each painting session to make sure that it is really progressing and not just getting overworked. When will I know if the painting is really completed? I looked up an article on ThoughtCo. to try and get some more perspective on this subject. According to the author, Marion Boddy-Evans, the answer to when a painting is done is as individual as each artist who completes the work, based on their individual skills, and their vision for the work. Source: Boddy-Evans, M. (2017). How Long Should it Take to Finish a Painting?ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/duration-to-finish-a-painting-2578835. For me, it will be a difficult tightrope between not finishing it and over working it.
Well, here I am a week after I said that I was going to start a daily sketchbook…It ended up being very difficult to make time for it, and unfortunately, I only got to work on it one day out of seven.
Emily Dickinson, “Hope”
Sarah, After Mary Cassatt
I also started thinking that perhaps my topic for last week’s blog about doing what you love and making it a habit, may not necessarily correspond to the prompts in the sketchbook I was thinking of using for this project. The sketch prompts in this book tends to focus more on still life and architecture, and less on portraits, which is something I really want to get better at doing. So I have decided to make a slight topic change. I am going to be posting photos of my oil and acrylic portraits in the process. Here’s a youtube video that inspired me to finish my work and to make this topic change: Finished Not Perfect, by Jake Parker, at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=finished+not+perfect+. I felt that the speaker hit the nail right on the head with his mantra of “Finished not Perfect.” I tend to struggle with perfectionism and find it hard to bring projects to a close because of my high expectations for the work.
I’d also like to alternate my own work with master copies to try and push my art making abilities forward and try to break some old habits in my painting practice, such as putting everything in the center of the page. This is an idea I got from the artist, Noah Bradley’s, article: 21 days to be a Better Artist at https://medium.com/@noahbradley/21-days-to-be-a-better-artist-48087576f0dd#.bzzgdsrp6, mentioned in last week’s post. Bonus, Noah Bradley includes a link to a youtube video where he teaches you how to make master copies of artwork!
So once again, my change of topic will be posting weekly portrait paintings and sketches, alternated with master artwork copies. My goals will be improving the level of my artwork with regards to drawing accuracy, composition, and harmonious color choices. And another important goal will be making sure to complete each work and post the results before moving onto other projects. Time management will be a crucial part of reaching this goal. Here’s an article that I have read about time management, which I plan to re-read. It’s called: Five Ways to Make Time for Art by Julie-Fei Fan Balzer, http://balzerdesigns.typepad.com/balzer_designs/2012/12/five-ways-to-make-time-for-art.html. She lists five ways to make art more of a priority in your schedule, and I am going to try the first two to help me in this quest of making more time for art, and getting really good at portraits, being sure to complete each piece. The first two suggestions Balzer mentions are using a crockpot for cooking and limiting computer time. Let me know if you have any time management tips for making art that you’d like to share! Here are some portrait paintings that I have been working on this week…An acrylic painting of Emily Dickinson, which illustrates the poem, Hope is the Thing with Feathers and a master copy of a Mary Cassatt oil portrait, Sara in a Green Bonnet, c. 1901.