Last month I started that self portrait. Been picking at it over the past month and figured I’d share the progress/process/mess.
After that first pass was dry to the touch, I laid a light glaze down and worked back in wet in wet and rendered things out a bit more. Repainted the eyes completely, and adjusted a lot of the volumes.
Once this pass was dried, I wanted to lay more texture and depth in, so I wet ahead and applied three more glazes, first a light wash of Unbleached titanium white. I find this helps Unify values a bit and creates a sense of “air” in the scene. Once that was dry I applied another glaze of olive green/Payne’s gray to knock stuff down. After than I laid down a light wash of cad red scarlet, in order to warm things up and unify a bit more. Here’s a time-lapse of the wash applications:
Once these glazes were dry to the touch, I came back in with bristle brushes and scumbled a bunch of complementary hues in areas that needed to be desaturated or temperature adjusted. This creates kind of a cool shimmering “broken color” which is something I enjoy doing particularly on skin.
I let this sit for a few days, and big things began bothering me. Felt it had receded too much, was getting too dark and some of the volumes were being subdued too much. I’d had kind of a rough week without a lot of sleep and felt like making some drastic changes, so I came back in with thick paint and repainted some of the topology, and tightened up the drawing in some areas where it had slipped some, and ended up here:
Last night, sat down for a bit. Made a bunch of little adjustments and repainted that back wall to simplify it more. It was tangent city back there, and wasn’t adding much to the overall picture, so it felt best to just lose it. Sometimes when I’m painting from life I’ll just paint everything and then will edit unimportant or unsuccessful details down the road. I do this all the time with background elements in selfies in particular, since I tend to start them all prima with less of a fully formed game plan as far as composition goes.
And that’s where I’m at with it now. Its been a ride, and while I’m not completely sure it’s finished yet, it feels like I’m on the home stretch at least. Self portrait at 43.
Feels like I repeat this sort of build and obliterate process until I start to get interesting areas and transitions. I’m also adjusting the drawing and tightening the whole time to it’s slowly coming together (though it does seem to go backwards sometimes too)
Over the years I’ve learned I’m not so much a one-pass guy, and prefer more to work in layers, ending in kind of this “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. I can get the drawing more accurate and a much livelier and matured paint surface, which have become important factors to me as a painter.
Oh! And I think I’ve finally finished this thing too! Took about 3 months, but I think I’ve hit that point where I’m not really adding anything meaningful to it at this point, and don’t want to go in and render too much more, so pending perhaps a few small touches I think I’m sticking a fork in it:
The lens I normally use to shoot work is currently being repaired (long story) so I’ll likely reshoot it eventually, but if you’re interested in seeing a pretty close 15k pixel wide photo stitch, here’s a drive link where you can download it. I find working this size so much detail gets lost, and I know I love looking at close ups, so there ya go: