Profile in Softer Shades

This week’s Let’s Face It lesson caused me to reflect on how I have been approaching both my online art courses.  In my determination to not purchase materials I am unlikely to use and in my pragmatic need to fit the lessons into my available free time, I have found that most lessons find me improvising, adapting the lessons to fit my circumstances.  It has led me at times to question the value of the lessons since I am not always truly trying a new approach, experimenting with an unfamiliar medium.  On the other hand, however, the lessons do inspire and encourage me to try new things and in doing so help me tweak my own style, help me find elements for my art that I either had not known about or did not know I would enjoy.  Furthermore, in moulding the lessons to suit me, I am better able to hold true to while developing my own style.  There is definitely something to be said for that.

This week’s lesson was taken by Robin Laws and should have involved manipulation of digital imagery and layering with and painting over collage.  Despite that being the focus of the learning, out of necessity and inclination I undertook neither step.  I did, however, draw my inspiration from the lesson: Laws’ exemplar was created using soft, pastel tones and – since I usually paint in bold colours – I decided to challenge myself to use paler shades and I set myself the additional challenge of including the ear, not doing my usual thing of covering it with hair.

I do think my proportions are getting better when drawing a face in profile and I am also growing more confident with making the faces I paint look more like the faces I draw, making them work with the more illustrative style I enjoy.  As I also find that I am much more interested in depicting faces than bodies, I have increasingly found myself reducing the torso portion of the bust to a much more simplified shape.  I think my husband’s Roman nerd influence is discernible as I have taken my inspiration from Classical herma.  Incidentally, the shades in this painting are actually paler than they appear in the photograph.  My husband thinks she looks a bit like Angelina Jolie.  I don’t quite see it but I will take the compliment anyway.

Week 23 Profile in Soft Colours


15 thoughts on “Profile in Softer Shades

  1. Hi, Laura! I read your opening paragraph several times. And each time I read it, my smile got a little broader. I tend to do the same thing: adapt lessons or tutorials to my existing style, and somehow make it work. The new knowledge and technique do impact the style without (in most cases) noticeably altering it. I think it makes perfect sense: wanting to improve, seeking new knowledge, all the while developing one’s own style. FWIW.

    Nice job on the portrait. My only suggestion: a different background color (something without yellowish tones) would have helped it stand out better.

    Re your husband’s Roman nerd influence: take heart. My wife has to deal with the same thing, only without the ‘Roman’ qualifier… : )

    • Thanks, Mark. I always appreciate your encouraging words.

      I agree with you regarding the background. I had actually meant to make it a soft blue overlaying some green and pink and then I totally brain-farted and painted the whole thing green (though it is a much paler, calmer shade than the photo shows). I might yet go back into the background with the other colours but I need to decide how to add them since my intention had been to use dribble and spatter, much more challenging to do when I went and added the figure.

      My husband is a nerd about many, many things (Star Wars, the US Civil War) but the obsession with ancient Rome is one of the few that actually engages me. It is fair enough though since I am also a nerd. Nerds of the world unite and take over!

  2. I absolutely love the colours of this painting! I always prefer drawing faces than bodies too … I must say, I am always amazed by your paintings, especially the way you manage to make each woman looking completely different from one another! 🙂

    • Thanks, Noemie. I wonder if the subtle differences aren’t just the fact I’m inconsistent. Ha ha! I’m actually going to embark on a summer project to draw 100 faces. I’ve been so focused on learning to paint and use mixed media techniques lately that I’ve only really had time to draw in my art journal so I want to see if everything I’ve been learning has improved my ability to draw faces. And I will go back to ink and watercolour to do so.

      • wow I can’t wait to see that! I think your technical skills have improved but then… I don’t really look at the technical aspect of art… I tend to just look at the feelings and emotions that the piece of work convey… I find some very basic drawings extremely moving. I find the way you pain women is extremely beautiful. Your women have inner strength and resilience. They embody felinity and strength and it all seems to flow naturally from you. It feels effortless… 🙂

      • Wow, Noemie! What lovely feedback. Thank you so much. I always appreciate your encouragement. My plan is to share the 100 faces over on my art blog at a rate of at least 3 a week. I was going to aim for a face per day – or at least weekday – but with the kids off school for ten weeks I have to be realistic.

      • Yes although sometimes it’s nice to be loose and quick about a painting and see how it turns out with minimal lines and time put into it… 🙂 it’s a different exercise.

      • I’m intending for these to be quick and done in just two sittings: ink layer then watercolour wash. I think 3-5 per week will be ambitious enough with doing activities with the kids and still trying to keep on top of the lessons for my art course. However, if we should have a rainy day at home then I might have a huge burst of activity and get through more. I’m setting myself a minimum rate of creativity but not a maximum.

      • It really varies depending on the number of layers involved and the media. I’m much quicker with ink and watercolour because I’m much more familiar with them and they also dry quickly. It’s also hard to estimate because I work on each painting in several short bursts. This one probably took me 1.5 hours because I skipped the collage layer and kept it pretty simple.

  3. I guess nothing wrong with going your way if you do not feel like doing something. If you were interested in learning it probably you would. So, just relax and enjoy. I strongly dislike painting over collage for some reason, so I have the same thoughts to skip it each time it comes up in a lesson. Last lesson is Life Book was the same and I still haven’t done it. I did stick my collage on the page but the painting part I delayed for a week. Today I started and the face turned pretty good, but still I feel like it’s not really my thing…

    • Often my adaptation of a lesson is pragmatic – I simply don’t have time or the required materials – but increasingly I’m picking and choosing in order to make a lesson accord with my own style. After all, I want to develop and hone my own style. That’s the goal. I just want to grow my skills with paint and other media I’m less confident with and then apply that. It’s also useful to be prompted to try new things as there are things I’ve done (especially with Life Book) that I’ve definitely incorporated into my own art. Last year I did every lesson but this year, time being tighter, I’ve skipped a few lessons I knew just weren’t “me” at all. I might come back to them but I’m not driving myself to eke out time to do lessons that aren’t a great fit for me.

      • Ha! Last year I skipped half of it, maybe more. This year I decided I am doing all except stuff that is cannot be bound into a journal. And I managed until now…

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