Friday, 6 June 2014

Part 02: Mili Fay Paints Her Author's Portrait

Date: April 8, 2013
Reposted From: Mili Fay: An Artist's Struggle To Success

Because of the surprisingly early Easter this year, it took a bit longer for me to get my CIP information, but in the end that proved to be a very good thing.  Someone out there really is watching over me, and I am much happier with the book in the state it is now than it was three weeks ago.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me continue from where I left off the last time; I have selected my printing company and I've been waiting for CIP before I could proceed with printing.

Instead of just waiting for the information to arrive, I decided to use those 10 business days to create my author's portrait and to paint my grandfather's portrait (this book celebrates his memory) in watercolour.  Previously these would have been photographs, but I believed that watercolour portraits would look much better with my watercolour book.

So, I pulled out my brushes, set up my paper, found a col-erase brown pencil and began.

Have you ever tried to paint a portrait in watercolour?!!!

I truly understand why most artists prefer oil and acrylic.  The next time I come across an artist who works in watercolour portraits, I will bow down before him/her and celebrate his/her genius. 

When painting with watercolour you have almost no room for error.  One little mistake and hours of work are ruined, and unless you are going to edit the work digitally, there is nothing you can do, but start again, and again, and again...

The accuracy and precision of mixing tones, drawing lines, deciding what should be prominent what should fade--I have never struggled with portraits this much in my life!

To illustrate the horror, I'm going to reveal my shamefully horrible attempts, that will make you wonder if I have any talent at all.

What you see above is the image of my late grandfather.  This picture has been scanned from his passport photo upon his death.  It has been enlarged and printed, and now I've scanned it again, because the original scan is on my nearly obsolete laptop.  This is the image I've used as photographic reference.

(Note: camera distorts an images, therefore when you paint from the photograph, you will have to try to compensate for the distortion.  However, this image is fairly accurate).

The above is my first attempt at watercolour painting.  

It is so distorted! 

My grandfather is almost past the point of recognition.  Believe it or not, it began as a fairly accurate sketch.  Then as I was painting, somehow his chin grew out of proportion.  I was also trying to make him look a bit more cheerful... It didn't work out.  The last horror is they eyes.  I liked the intensity of the dark eyes in the photo, but with the rest of the painting, they look too dark--like two holes.  And I do not even want to mention the eyelashes...  He looks as if he is wearing mascara!

After a good night's sleep, I tried again.

This painting IS my grandfather.  The way I remember him; sad eyes, kind face and older than he is in the photograph.  When I look at this photo, I feel so much emotion.  That is how I know it works.  It is not a copy, but an accurate representation of who my grandfather was.  The eyes still are dark enough to remain the focus, but are light enough that they fit with the rest of the picture.  This is the portrait I'm using, and I'm extremely happy with it.  To original will be sent to my grandmother.

I was so happy with this portrait, that I decided to attempt painting my author's portrait immediately.

Now, you need to know that I do not like to paint and draw myself.  It feels very weird to me.  Whenever I paint, I try to emotionally connect with the person I'm painting, but emotionally connecting with myself...  It's weird.  Also, my vanity kicks in.  I do not think I'm beautiful, but I have the skills to make myself beautiful, so it is very hard for me not to attempt to do so.  Then, I'm not really sure I want everyone on the net see my face.  All of these factors crate an internal struggle that interferes with my work--something I do not have when I paint other people.  When I paint others, I think about how happy they'll be with the job well done, and I try to find their true self, creating a little story about them in my mind.

This is the first picture I decided to use as the reference.  The slick hair worked with the outfit, but here it looks rather flat.  Also I cannot use the shadows which are in this photo, though I do like them.  Then, my nose which is rather long (courtesy of my grandfather) looks even bigger due to the distortion of the lens.

This is my first attempt.  I do not usual swear, but "What the #$%@?!"  How can I paint such a beautiful portrait of my grandfather, and then end up with this.  It looks nothing like me--well maybe my eyes.  The portrait does look slightly like my grandmother, but it looks more like a doll than a real person.  One of those cut-up dolls of the 60s or something.  I wish my skin was that healthy, but it has not looked like that since I was 19.

A complete and total miss.

I've decided that the shadows were at fault, and that painting form that photo would be too difficult.  So, I got my photo from September 2012 (when I was leaner), the one currently found on my Facebook Page and on my webpage Contact Me page.

This is the result of that attempt.

To be fair I was working from screen, but once again, "What is this?!"

It looks like a very slutty version of me.  Completely inappropriate for an author's photo.  What WAS I thinking?  Not to mention the proportional inaccuracy.  Believe it or not, this portrait started out fairly accurate in the pencil sketch, but I must have fudged a line here an there while I was painting, and now it does not look very much like me.  Maybe I was tired.  Maybe that explains the slumberous look in my eyes, and the overall appearance of me rolling out of bed.  (I believe I finished this near midnight.)

The next day, I pulled out another photo.

I like this picture.  It is the traditional author portrait pose.  I look kind, approachable, with a sense of humor.  A good representation.

This is the result of that portrait.

I was trying to create intense eyes--I should have left them alone--this is what happens when you overwork your image.  I do not hate this portrait--though that right eye has the wrong tilt (stupid watercolour, I can't go and fix it, unless I play with the thing digitally).  What I do not like about it is that I look as if I am smirking.  Maybe the shadow around my mouth is too dark, and my lips are slightly off...

This picture I took with a specific purpose in mind.  It is to be the welcome image of my new website (still in development).  I am looking at Artemis (my owl--the one I use as my logo).  I love this photo of me, and so, I decided to give it a try.

This is the finished result, and this is the image I'm using for my author's photo.  Yes, my chin is a bit longer, and my nose a bit shorter--but at least this one looks somewhat like me.  I love the way Artemis turned out, and I believe the whole image represents Mili Fay of Mili Fay Art.

I discovered that the key to painting watercolour portraits is to keep them light.  Once you start painting deep shadows, and rounding the form,... The painting tends to loose that light spontaneous feeling and becomes very... Solid.

What is good about watercolour portraits is their ethereal quality, and the next time I paint one, I will try to remember that.

All I know is, the above picture will serve it's purpose, and I do not want to paint myself at least for another 5 years! 

I will write more about receiving my CIP, and my new-found mission next time.  For now, keep practicing, and if you know an amazing watercolour portrait painters let me know.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous. Abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.