Monday, September 20, 2010

Colorful Me

I don't really like the way I look, and I don't mean in this picture, which isn't the same. I feel some guilt about not liking my face because I have a perfectly decent face with useful parts - eyes to see, a nose to smell and support my glasses, a mouth to eat and speak and kiss. I guess I just always kind of wanted to be beautiful, and except for fleeting moments and deceptive photographs, I'm really not. So I haven't done many self-portraits. I haven't painted many portraits period, because a little practice didn't get me anywhere near portraits that I liked. They lacked the mysterious spark of life that I appreciate in a good portrait. I should paint portraits though; we should all paint portraits. What could possibly hold more interest for us than ourselves and other humans?

This was done for the Calypso Moon Artist Movement Challenge, which again pushed me outside the normal boundaries of my painting. I set up a wall mirror in the breakfast nook, and made a large pencil sketch on drawing paper. My plan had been to transfer it to watercolor paper and paint it there. But I captured some good value information in the sketch, and decided to work right on the drawing paper. I also decided spur of the moment to use pastels. I never use pastels, but I have an old box that belonged to somebody else, and lately I've spoken with a number of very passionate pastel artists. So why not? I think in some ways, working with pastels was good for me for this challenge. Since I couldn't mix the colors, there was no temptation to tone them down or neutralize them. I used bright red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. I added a little black (eyes, glasses and shirt only), and a little reddish brown just in the hair. I love the colors, and I think vivid colors may be part of the secret to alive-looking portraits. I think the top half of the portrait is a pretty good likeness. The nose isn't long enough and the jawline isn't square enough. I like the worried forehead creases.

One problem, however, that I overlooked, is that I need to paint the challenge piece. So, back to the drawing board.


  1. Hi Barbara, pastels can be used in a manner that can make them into a painting but you are still in the early drawing phase here. I've sent you an email to explain what I want from you.

  2. The woman you captured in this pastel is very real. She has spirit, a soul. THAT is very difficult to achieve, at least in my limited experience! I think she/you are beautiful. You are a real person, with depth and character and soul. I can't wait to see your finished painting...if one's paintings can ever truly be called "finished".

  3. I think it's done so nice and I like your face and what Paula said. I'm much like you about my face.