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Here's a portrait of my brother I've been working on in oils.
Looking at it now, the eyes probably need to be moved a bit more... other than that there's not much to say, just need another opinion on any glaring problems... thanks.
Last edited by Marcatili; December 6th, 2011 at 07:30 AM. Reason: update
Looks good. If I had to suggest an area for improvement, I'd say make the forms either much less graphic and hard-edged (i.e., model everything more classically), or a lot more so (like a Shepard Fairey poster). Right now it has a kind of paint-by-numbers quality (which can be hard to avoid when you're working from a photo.)
Thanks Giacomo, the crit about hard-edges seems to be a recurring one so I'll have to remember to work on that. There are areas that are very hard edged (like the highlights on the forehead) but there are other areas where I've tried to have more subtle shifts in colour, such as the right cheek (our right).
I know this is not as good as I want it to be, but I'm not sure what I need to focus on improving. I'm gonna do a bunch of small quick portrait studies with a limited palette and try to model the form mostly in tone and with more direct brush strokes.
If you possibly can, you should sign up for a portrait-painting course with an instructor you respect. There is really no substitute for working from life under the supervision of a good teacher.
Yep, that's actually my plan for the new year, should be good.
Here's a smaller portrait I started today. Spent 1.5hrs on this. Not a fan of the sickly looking colours- too much naples yellow.
Still, in comparison to the other one I'm happy with how far along I've gotten in such a short space of time. I wanted to get more direct brush strokes and I think I'm getting that...
Used a pretty limited palette of Naples Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber & a bit of White.
Any feedback appreciated, thanks!
Free advice: Slooooow waaaay dooown and model out the forms a bit. Sargent-like bravura brushwork is only impressive if it describes the form--and what you're doing right now is just putting down flat shapes. (If you want to the work to be about expressive brushwork defining graphic shapes, that's fine too (you can Google "Neil Jenney" for an example of one artist who works that way) --but that's another kettle of fish entirely.)
Also, once it's dry you could probably add some lighter areas to emphasize the areas catching direct light. It'll give the thing some "punch" and 3D-ness. JPEG below.
Ok, here's where I'm up to today.
Excuse the oil sheen. The eyes look pretty dark and yet they capture the likeness and sense of life much better than earlier attempts.
I'll probably get back to the first portrait tomorrow.
Here's an update of the first portrait. There are a few little things that are still bugging me but I think I'm almost finished with this.
So wonderful. Keep up the great work!
don't stop do more.....
my two pennies don't be afraid to let the negative space invade the positive and vice versa.....I know I did this in Photoshop and it ends up looking like a blur but I hope you still get what I mean.....
anyways I really like it and hope you keep at it.....
The saturation/chroma of that yellow background is really intense...and the fact that it is not represented in the subject is odd. His moustache looks like it got cut off? And his left eye is much larger than his right. Reflected light on left side of neck is a bit bright/high value.
Ear on the chap with cap is quite low.
Your paint handling is pretty good in the portrait of your brother. Though I agree with Giacomo about the shape problems looking a bit like paint by numbers. Try to really be sensitive to edges and transitions of form, "form shadow" vs. cast shadow. Keep it up - looking good!
Thanks for the feedback.
williams- I get what you mean, it's a good suggestion. Using the background colour to light the subject would help, whereas in this I changed the background so the figure & ground don't really relate to each other.
Jeff- I agree about the yellow background, it's too intense and it doesn't light the subject. I'm planning to do some more portraits with the figure in the environment, so the lighting will make more sense. I agree about the lighting on the neck too so I will knock that back a bit.
The eyes annoy me as well, though I've made changes since the last update above, adding structure around his right eye. Overlaying the two eyes in photoshop shows them to be more or less the exact same size, so I think the issue is more placement & structure. It's tricky because in the ref his left eye is slightly larger, just because of his expression. But painting it that way made it look wrong, so I've tried to get a happy medium between expression & likeness, and also having it look right. I don't think I've nailed it.
You're right about the ear, thanks- a pretty easy fix.
I'll keep working on brushstrokes and edges- I actually started a thread with these paintings in the Fine Art section where I'll add more portraits as I go, rather than here.