You learn the most from your own mistakes, I’ve mentioned this before. “But how does that work?” you might ask. Sometimes you know that your painting is unsuccessful but you do not know why. In the beginning, that was also a problem for me. Perhaps the most important thing I taught myself is this: Make a checklist to be used after finishing a painting. (Applause from family and friends is trappy: It’s not hard to get compliments and believe that you’ve done an amazing job when you actually should know better.)
Some criteria that you can think of:
- Is the composition solid enough?
- Is the value contrast okay?
- Is the use of colour okay?
- Did I use enough paint?
- Do I see enough “bold” brush strokes?
- Not too many meticulous & irrelevant details?
There are numerous points to invent. Later I’ll come back to this issue. Try to make such a list for yourself.
An important observation is this: Value contrast can be more important than colour contrast. When a painting is not really a hit because you got stuck in colours that don’t want to accomodate, remember that the solution perhaps lies in the value contrast.
I made two images with the self-timer in my studio. On the first the light source is right in front of me. On the second from aside. I transformed the two into a simple grayscale drawing. In the first drawing the portrait has to come alive from subtle colour contrasts. In image 2, the face is completely formed by the strong shadow. Drawing 2 has a higher value contrast and that makes it much easier to achieve a strong portrait and to obtain a good likeness. See also this article.
A memorable moment.
Three years ago I started making my videos on portrait painting and March 23, 2011 I uploaded my first speed-painting demonstration on Youtube. Also around that time I set up my blog Paintingportraittips. All with the aim to provide information on portrait painting. Knowledge that I also share with my students, for instance during summer courses in Burgundy, France at Table Tableau. My friends who manage this center, Bas & Agnes are our guests for this week. From the beginning of my internet activities Bas gives advice on how to deal with social media, and still is closely involved in the Paintingportraittips project.
Now what fortuity: By sheer coincidence I looked at the Youtube-Analitics last thursday and all to my surprise the counter of subriptions was at 9996! Four more from the magic 10,000. Quickly, I ran to the store to buy a bottle of champagne. Barely back the counter jumped to 10,000. A memorable moment to celebrate with Helma, Bas & Agnes and to toast to this milestone.
Honestly I must say that I had to go twice to the liquor store because by accident, the first bottle fell on the kitchen floor into a thousand pieces.
Two cousins in the studio
A month ago Will Sophie was visiting us in Spain. I’ve told you about him before. He plays guitar on some of my recent videos. We are cousins. We come from the same social background. He got into music and I started painting. Two different people with different characters. But we had things in common: we both had a dream, and we shared the inability to survive in a nine-to-five job. I did that until my early twenties, and Will not much longer. The choice for individual independence in our milieu was not very obvious. Which does not mean that our parents were not proud of what we did and achieved. On the contrary. (Behind my back my father gathered my discarded drawings and if something appeared in print he secretly made a small collection). Will has made an impressive career for himself, and I think he belongs to the Top Ten Dutch guitarists. I’m proud that he gave me permission to use his music. It adds so much luster to my videos.
Check out also his video channel.
The kitchen garden. The fava beans carry flowers already
After a dry winter this week spring began. And it started fantastic: yesterday it rained cats and dogs and that was more than welcome. We have yearned for months for some rain here. From memory it has never been this dry. But now the vegetable crops are washed crisp and clean. The fava beans already carry flowers and it is not long before we will see the first beans.
The Chinese delegation also visited Helma in her studio.
Last week we had a special visit. The Deputy Director of the China Millennium Monument/ World Art Museum in Beijing came to see us on her spanish tour of some artist studio´s. We agreed to see whether there are possibilities to run a number of portrait painting workshops in China. So, who knows…
Portrait as used in publicity campaigns
The portrait halfway painted.
Years ago I received a commission for a portrait that would be used in a publicity campaign for a home-decoration company in the Netherlands. Thanks to my agent we agreed to good terms and the financial settlement was very satisfactory. However, I did not know exactly what role the portrait of the owner of the company would play in the campaign. It soon turned out that the picture appeared in countless advertisements and even on the trucks of the company. I was surprised, when I once was back in the Netherlands, to find myself driving past my portrait on the highway. Then I asked myself: am I already a little famous?