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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“Get painting already!”

Nobody has actually said what the header says, but I’ve got hints now and then, in the form of questions. And as you can guess from my previous post, I haven’t had anything to show for me.

It has been annoying me. Not the questions, but that I haven’t managed to sit down and paint. (Or stand and paint, but my easel is a tabletop one.)

This Christmas, I got yet another hint that I should get to work. 😉

It’s a hint that can remind me of the blog post Painting? Seriously? or maybe Mark My Words. Because, in one gift I got something …

Ten different colours of Lefranc Burgois acrylic paint
A nice collection of acrylic paints

… I got some paint. No more excuses now, eh?

Admittedly, I bought something myself, too, that I got early in December. Something more special stuff, more in the style of what I wrote in Oh, the possibilities.

4 containers of different coloured LIT, medium, and the mirrorest mirror paint
Stuff from Culture Hustle

Yeah, I bought some LIT. Four containers of glow-in-the-dark powder, superbase – a medium to mix them with so I can use it as paint, and a little bottle of the mirrorest mirror chrome paint.

Did I have an idea of how to use it, or what to use it for, before I bought it all? Or did I just think it was cool?

Admittedly, I do think it’s cool, and that it can make some nice effects when used, but I did have a couple of ideas in mind when I decided to get it.

I got a few more ideas later.

Now I need to make some nice sketches to make those ideas stand out clearer to myself before I even start thinking of painting with it. But in the meantime, there are a lot of other paintings that I want to get to.

So, while I’m not saying what ideas I have myself, maybe you have got some playing around in your minds now? What are they?

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Space – the Final Sketchbook

It has been a while since the last update here now. To be honest, it’s been too long since I have managed to write something about my painting projects, and it has annoyed me quite a bit. The reason why is unfortunately an easy one.

I haven’t painted anything. Or rather, I haven’t finished painting anything. There are three paintings that I have started.

This was the situation until a few days before Christmas. The evening of the 21st December, I finally managed to do something again. I painted the cover of a sketchbook!

Picture of the sketchbook cover
The top is photographed in the light.
The bottom with the lights off, showing the glow-in-the-dark effect.

I wanted to give it away, so it was an extra encouragement to get it done. The inspiration came from a mural, and I figured: Hey, I can manage to make a space motive, and use some glow-in-the-dark medium.

That medium wasn’t quite as flowing as I had hoped. Getting thicker by the age? But I managed to make something nice out of it anyway.

All in all, while I could do more out of it by spending more time on it, I’m quite happy with the result and got some positive feedback on it, too. Mission satisfyingly completed.

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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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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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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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Add some water …

It’s time to paint again – and to finish the painting. And today I’ve done both. Judging from the ime I used, around five hours total actively painting, I think I do get somewhat better at it. I probably spent more time figuring out what to paint.

And, what did I decide to paint? The title of this post gives a hint, but you’ve probably already seen the painting below.

reaking waves

Quite a watery picture, with the splashing waves. Personally, I’m happy with the result. Just need to add my signature.

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1, 2, 3, testing

Sometimes, you just have to test something, either because it’s a new, unknown product, or because you want to try something new. Recently, I made a quick little painting, just as a quick little test. And as such, I didn’t care much about getting the right proportions and stuff like that.

So, I took my sketch block, made a quick and dirty sketch – on the cover – and started painting.

Not at all proper proportions on the figure – but a lot better than the sketch 😜

OK, so I painted on the cover of my sketch block. Big deal. What’s that got to do with testing something new, or unknown?

Well, I did mention in an earlier post, about the various acrylic mediums I bought, and there was at least one of them I just had to test, to see how it worked. And did it work like I hoped, and mentioned in that earlier post? Eagerly, I brought the sketch block with me to a little, dark room to see …

It’s dark. It’s glowing. It’s … green.

It was partly successful! It’s glowing in the dark, but I must admit: I had hoped it would take on a bit of the colour I had mixed in, but it didn’t. It glowed green.

Well, come to think of it, the test itself was 100% successful. It didn’t give me the results I hoped for, but now I see what it does, and I can take that into consideration when thinking of other projects where it can be used. Some ideas are already entering my thought train. Let’s see what station they leave at.

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