Thursday, November 7, 2013

Portrait of Apryl

The final finished piece.  16 x 20 acrylic on canvas.

This was one of those things where I could've easily decided to do this digitally like many of the other ones and been done with it.  The issue with that was that I've been looking at a lot of traditionally done paintings as of late, and while I have zero issue with digital and will continue to explore that option I felt like I needed to "return to nature" for a lack of a better term.  I needed to feel that brush, the strokes on canvas, the experience of physically mixing your colors instead of relying on a color wheel or slider.  More importantly, there was a question I needed to have answered.  Could I survive without the undo command?  The ability to lasso and move something if you don't feel it's correct?  Could I work without the comfort of that safety net?  And could I still get the kind of results that I wanted knowing that certain things that could happen easily with digital wouldn't come as easy on a real canvas?   

Well, it was time to find out.  Even if it didn't work out, I'm not gonna argue one bit about the subject matter.

This was done with acrylic paint on a 16 x 20 canvas.  The reason for acrylic instead of oil is two fold.  Oil would force me to work outside unless I want to die of the fumes from all the chemicals used in it, acrylic dries much quicker, and I've always felt at home with it back in college.  Granted the trade-off here was that blending would be a bit more of a pain since it dries faster though that acrylic glazing liquid from back then offset that factor a bit.  
In the beginning I used just the primary colors and white to create every base color that I wanted to use.  Granted, whether traditional or digital, I think this phase can be one of the scariest times of the whole project.  You can see what it is that you want it to look like in your mind, but you often have to remember that things constantly change.  This one was no exception.  
A second pass, a good deal later on down the road.  Still working out a lot of stuff, but the figure is getting more refined at this point and the beginnings of water is starting to take shape.  Background is still very basic though.  When I worked on this I moved around the figure a lot.  Don't stay in one place for too long, or you'll find yourself missing the big picture.
Solidifying the color temperatures of the environment at this point, adding details in areas, and making corrections all around as I went.   

I went for a full figured portrait on this one, as I really wanted to capture as much of the real person in the painting as I possibly could.  A caricatured figure could've been interesting though and that'll be something I'll consider for a future project.  That said, while the approach to the subject was pretty strict I did keep parts of it open to interpretation.  After all, if someone wanted it to be 100% exact you can just get a photograph to do that.  It's like my instructor George Pratt mentioned in my illustration class long ago, "Let a painting be a painting!"  Couldn't think of a more appropriate approach.

Credit goes to Paul A Presenza's Photos for the reference shots used, and to Apryl Crowell for being an awesome model.