Throughout art history, artists have used the self portrait as a way to test their skills, to examine themselves and their lives, and to try out new techniques. An artist can take his or her time and do not have pressures to please anyone other than themselves. For me, doing a self portrait is an examination of the passing of time. I wanted to try out some new ideas I have been exploring with my oil sticks along the way. Self portraits are a fun challenge!
Step One- In college, etching and printmaking were my focus. Lines were etched into a plate, inked and the ink was wiped off. When the plate was run through a press, an image appeared from the incised lines. Different techniques produced values of black tones to augment the lines. I decided to adapt this technique to produce a different method. Rather than cutting into a plate, I first built textures with a light gray oil stick. Following the planes of the face, I used fingers, palette knives and other tools to create a textured surface on a piece of multimedia artboard.
Step Two- When this layer had dried well, I used a deep brown oil stick and applied it over the entire surface of the board. With a plastic scraper, I made sure the brown oil stick was pressed into all the grooves formed by the textures I created. When it was wiped off well, an image was produced. This image was the foundation upon which I created my painting.
Step Three- I used values of light gray and a warm white to create three dimension in the planes of my face. I applied light glazes of dark colors over the background to build more texture and to deepen the values there.
The Finish- I used a small brush and some walnut oil and oil stick to paint in finishing details in the eyes. I carved out white lines using various drawing tools and palette knives. My interest at the present time is in creating mystery in my paintings by contrasting small details with loose areas of tones.
Final Thoughts- Every painting is really about learning something. If I have learned something, I could say the painting was successful. This painting was a great learning experience and I like how it turned out. Along the way, the process gave me more ideas to try in the future. With more practice, I can see how this process could produce some exciting results!
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