My First Portrait

When I took the challenge of painting my first portrait ever in five days, problems arose. Did I overcome them, or not?

My digital painting of an apple started a new era, I said. Or wrote. To follow up on that claim, I need to show it, right? Show that I’m doing some digital painting now. I guess it’s time to rejoice just a little bit now then because the week after the “apple boot camp” the “one week portrait”-challenge started.

The same steps used in the previous boot camp were used now. Day one: Make a rough sketch/line art of the portrait. Get the proportions correct, but the details weren’t that important just now. So I did that.

Day two: Add the main colours; skin colour, including light and shadow versions. Same for lips, eyes, hair, clothes and whatever else is needed. Just add them in the main areas, leaving hard edges between the colours. I did that. It looked kinda weird, but I trusted the process.

Day three: I left for Easter, bringing my laptop and drawing tablet with me. The task was to blend the colours together to make it look nice. A little bit more focus on details. When I was ready to do it – my laptop failed me. Or rather, Photoshop failed me. When I opened the file I was working on, all that was showing was a white canvas. All the layers were there, but they didn’t show.

I could turn the different layers “visible” and “invisible” and save the ones I wanted as a flattened image, just one layer. A one-layer file would show, and I could edit it. Doing everything in just one layer.

Ouch!

That complicated things.

I would have to do things differently from how I normally would do stuff. More like painting with acrylics on canvas: I couldn’t just undo mistakes easily, and had to be a lot more careful. I did the best I could.

Day four: Take care of the details and textures. Again, I did what I could. My drawing tabled acted up, too, giving me a hard time.

Day five: Make the finishing touch to make it pop, and make it my style. I fought Photoshop, which I had made partly working, and my tablet. Was I victorious? At least I managed to post a result on the last day.

My finished portrait

Am I happy with the result? Actually, yes, I am. It’s not that I don’t see weaknesses and things that can be better, because I certainly do. But not only did I struggle with the software and hardware this time, but it’s also my first portrait ever. I don’t think I should be ashamed of this painting.

I like it.

Will I try to redo it later? Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just try painting a completely different portrait. Or something completely different. I do know I will continue with digital painting, but also with acrylics.

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A new era

OK, so it’s been a while since the last update. I must’ve made good use of all those tubes of acrylic paint by now then, right? Well, not right. Unfortunately. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, quite the opposite, but for various reasons, it didn’t happen.

One reason is my limited space, having to sit by the kitchen table to paint. Slightly inconvenient.

I do have a balcony though, that should be a nice place when the temperature permits it, so when the temperature did rise and made it pleasant to sit there, I was quick to set up a nice place to paint there. My painting studio.

Alas, when I had done that – the temperature went down again. Making it too cold for me to sit down and paint.

Sigh.

So, when I saw there was a challenge to digitally paint the best portrait I’ve ever done, I couldn’t resist. I wanted to join that. While I’ve done various things with graphics, digitally, I haven’t really done any digital painting. So, I prepared myself with a crash course on painting an apple.

My version of the apple.

For my first real try at digital painting, I’m quite happy with it. Actually, I think I’d be quite happy with it with lots of experience, too.

So, what about the portrait challenge? I’ll write about it later – the challenge starts tomorrow. But the claim made, that it’ll be my best portrait ever so far, is given. It’ll be going to be my first portrait ever.

But I titled this “A new era” – will I stop painting with acrylics, going fully digital instead? Certainly not! It’s just going to be one more addition to things I’m interested in doing. And, maybe easier to sit down with for a little time than anything else?

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The River

A friend of mine took a picture and posted on Facebook – and I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to paint it. Luckily she didn’t mind that, and even more luckily I found a canvas that suited the format perfectly: A tall picture, cell phone format 😉

At 35×70 cm, it’s the largest canvas I had painted on. Funnily enough, it’s also the painting that took shape the quickest for me. Almost like I’m starting to get some experience. Hmmm, could that be so?

Anyway, it’s a nice autumn picture, with the lovely autumn colours.

Motive from Volda

How could I not want to paint this? Sure, it’s a bit more simplistic than the photo I used as a reference, and there are always things I can get better at, but I’m learning! Most importantly though, I’m very happy with this. This is showing my abilities at present, and my current style of painting.

Seeing how I develop, both in knowledge, abilities and style is part of the fun, to be enjoyed in the time that comes. 😉

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Aurora Borealis

Last year (which is not that long ago) I made this little painting of the northern light – and tried it with a much looser brush than I’ve done in my paintings so far; they’ve been more detailed. But this was a well-received present, and I’ve been told it has got many nice comments.

Northern light – the Aurora Borealis – over a winter landscape

It’s also a bit nice to hear about the little “wow” added when the light is turned off, and the glow in the dark effect is visible …

Glow-in-the-dark

It’s fun to experiment like this. Other ideas are forming in my head, too 😉

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By the water

I have finished another painting, with a motive from near Odda. Yep, another nature motive – and in my humble opinion, I’m getting better at it. OK, it’s certainly not photo realism, but the colours are certainly getting more natural painting by painting. Which is what I’m aiming for in this kind of paintings.

Plus, of course, that the result is pleasing.

A lovely view

I painted this one only in the classes in evenings, and for this one, I made a very short video of the progress I did after every class.

My progress, evening by evening.

This view is towards the Folgefonna glacier, of which we can get a glimpse of.

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A particular tree

Once upon a time, I was walking up towards a local mountain top. Honest. Despite the beginning, it’s not a fairy tale! Didn’t walk alone, I had good company. But the point is: On the way, we were walking past a tree that I thought looked quite photogenic. So I snapped a photo.

Time came for me to find a new motive for me to paint. Well – why not use one of my photos? Like, the one of a particular tree? So I did.

Yeah. No plein air for me. I need much more experience and paint quicker for that to be a viable alternative for me. Maybe some day, but for now I’m happy when I can paint inside.

So, with the photo next to me, I started to block in the colours.

In the beginning there were bright colours …

The colours weren’t exactly accurate, comepared to the photo, but at least I had got the main shapes in place. And this process went fairly quick. For me. But this was only the beginning. I needed to do more!

Colour changing nature

The colours couldn’t be that bright. While the original photo is quite saturated, I’ve learned that more realistic paintings need to be more moderate to be believable. So to perform the necessary adjustments, colours were changed, and some details added.

I must admit, it looked a lot more “boring” after this, but it’s not always the right thing to go wild and saturated!

So I continued.

Leave the leaves

Some more colour adjusting helped immensely, and the tree shouldn’t be bare. It was autumn. It should be full of green leaves. So I added them.

Ah! This was starting to look like something. While not as saturated scene as I might have wished for, I was happy with what I saw at this point.

Finished!

The last details were added. The painting was finished. The artist was happy. That is, me.

Is it identical to the photo?

Oh no!

But I think it’s a nice representation of what I saw, if simplified. And I’m ready to try a new motive, with new challenges.

What about the original?

OK, some may be interested in seeing how close to the photo the painting is. And I can help you there. I’ll show you:

The photo itself

This is how the original scene is. As you can see, I’ve taken some liberties, and there are definitely some differences. Not only in colours. But it was a very nice inspiration for me, and I’m happy with the result. Which is more important than have it identical. At least this time.

The eagle eyed among you have noticed the square pattern over the picture. This is so that it will be easier to keep the proportions correct when transferring the image to canvas. You may also notice that I don’t have the correct proportions in my painting, compared to the photo.

Yeah. Well. I originally drew it nicely – but painted over the lines when I blocked in the colours – and didn’t bother to draw it in exactly as it was afterwards. I did it quick and dirty after memory.

Still, the lines are there, and if anyone wants to try to paint it themselves, feel free. It would be fun to see the results!

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By the sea

A sea house by the sea. Well – where else would it be? I was out with my nephew (one of them) one winter night photographing. Among several photos of this sea house, I thought this particular one would be very nice as a painting. So, I did what I had to do: I painted it!

A sea house from where I grew up

There are as always many things for me to learn still. I probably could work with this for many days or weeks yet to reach “perfection” – but I prefer to go on to the next motive. It helps me keep the enjoyment in it all, and it’s just so inspiring and encouraging to see the progress I do, it makes it all that more fun to paint. And to be honest, it’s the fun in this creativity that’s the most important for me.

Still, I do of course hope that you enjoy watching what I do, too 😉

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Painting A Sketch Block

I have painted sketch blocks earlier. Not inside them, but the covers. Apart from a quick and dirty test of something on my own sketch block, I’ve only shown the one I painted this summer. Now I’ve painted another one. I had a clearer picture in mind before I started, what I would paint.

The recipient of this sketch block enjoys playing his guitar, so the front cover wasn’t difficult to decide.

Whats better than a guitar player on the cover?

What should go on the back cover? Since its a black canvas-like cover, I wanted something that could light up in the night. Like a bonfire.

A bonfire on the beach
But where are the marshmallows?

A bonfire on the beach, a log to sit on – I wondered if I should paint a guitar leaning towards the log, too, but as the picture shows: I decided against it.

I’m happy with the results. While there, of course, are things that could be made better, I do see the progress I do myself. Which is fun and encouraging. And that is the main reason for painting in the first place, having some fun.

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Going tiny

I just wrote about I have to take a break from the fiddly work resulting from painting all those small details in my endless, circular river picture. And I have started a new picture, from where I grew up. A sea house, after a photo I took one winter night.

Now, I also have another project in mind, which isn’t a painting project, but one which includes the shaping of clay. Yeah, I want to make a clay figure. Some time. A figure that is painting, so I figured, I need a small canvas and easel. I could make it in clay, of course, but … I bought it instead.

My new canvas and easel. And the brushes too.

Of course, such a small canvas requires painting small details. Which is fiddly work, right?

Right!

Good thing I’m taking a break from doing the fiddly work then. Except … well, it’s just such a tiny little canvas, it can’t take that much time to paint it. So I did. I spent quite a while to figure out what to paint, but ended up painting a miniature of the one I’m currently painting on a large canvas, just in summertime.

Sea house in summertime

It was a fun, little project. Sure, I could spend more time on it and get the details even better, but this was more for fun than anything else. Besides, I can buy more of those canvases without ruining myself, and the paint expenses should be manageable, too.

And I will!

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Fiddly work

I wanted to paint a special landscape motive, inspired by M.C. Escher’s “Waterfall” – as told in an earlier post. At that time I had figured out roughly how the landscape should be, to achieve the needed optical illusion. This was harder than expected, so it took time. Some changes to the layout have happened after that, but now I’m happier with it. It’s mostly the smaller details that are left now. Details like forests, villages, farms and such.

This is fiddly work. Fiddly work takes time!

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.

Ford Prefect, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Another thing I mentioned later, in my Summertime-post, is my lack of activity on that painting. Or painting at all, technically. Of course, I’ve started painting again now, as the previous post clearly indicates. I’ve just taken a break from the fiddly work, needed something else to concentrate on. Still, I’ve done something.

Notice the flattering shadow in the lower left corner …

The geography is now in order, it’s “just” the details that have to be added. Bit by bit. I’ll be working on it now and then, just to not get bored by the fiddly bits. In the meantime, I have a few other paintings of various sizes that need to take priority.

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