I had chosen three subjects, and three specific types of portraits for the day. The first subject was Poldark, the specific here was a portrait of a person with all their trappings and props, the sort of portrait you see in the halls of stately homes. This was a full colour painting. This was worked from a photograph that has appeared in lots of magazines as this programme is now again showing on the television. So we had a very nice photograph to work from. Lots of detail too so we started with a solid line drawing, line only, no shading. We started by painting in Poldark, skin tone can be made up by using residue of colour mixes in a palette. The tricorn hat was painted in wet on wet, lots of different shades of red/browns and chromatic black. As this was only a small part of the overall painting, the other alternative was to use a tube of flesh tint: unless you are painting a commission, I would not advise mixing up a batch for a painting of this nature. The head of hair is curly, so I used a waterproof fine line pen. I painted all the clothing in glazes, it took a while, and only applied the first layers in the workshop, taking the painting away and finishing it in the studio (it is still slightly unfinished).
We then painted the horse. When painting a horse, do not think of only one or two colours. The amount of colours reflected on a horse’s coat are many. I used two blues, a purple, a light brown, a dark brown and a chromatic black. I also used my fine line pen to draw in the smaller hair shapes on the blaze and ears. The reigns – again I used a range of colour from light red to dark brown.
The Background – I painted in the sky wet on wet, using a diagonal brush stroke as I wanted to suggest movement in the sky as the setting is by a body of water. I used a range of colours from an old dirty palette and let them mix on the paper. When that was dry I could work on the distant hills (greens and browns, but light tones of these) and the water, again using very light tones so the background does not invade the foreground. I still have a bit of work to complete on the boot and metal parts of the reigns, but this was a thoroughly enjoyable portrait to complete. We had some first class results in the classroom.
The second was our sitter for the day, Sarah, so we had a real live subject to work from. This was a pencil sketch. Sarah has naturally curly hair, which is great fun to draw. We discussed how to approach our subject – drawing a line down the middle of the paper, whether to draw the features first, or the overall shape of the head, and where to start. We also were bearing in mind a man’s face is basically a square or rectangle and a woman’s face is round and softer. I started off with a very light pencil pressure drawing. This was made up of lines. After the class (Sarah sat for half an hour for us), I completed this sketch in the studio. I used a range of B pencils, (working light to dark and using heavier pencil pressure in each layer of graphite I used) and worked initially on the hair and made it slightly wilder looking than I had in the classroom. I then drew in the eyes and mouth, with just a suggestion of the nose as I had forgotten the overall shape, so kept this fairly basic. I then drew in the jewellery and clothing. Scaling a live sitter is usually a challenge for learners and they often try and “fit” the shoulders on their paper, when often they do not. However, we had some great results in the classroom: all learners achieved a likeness of Sarah, although all their work was in their own unique styles.
The third was working in the style of a monochrome painting, where the artist is guided by light and dark, so the balance of negative space and positive space is crucial for success.
A very enjoyable day, with a variety of subjects and styles to keep everybody inspired.