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Overcoming the Fear of Painting Portraits

Artist Self-Portrait
12″x12″
Haley
8″x8″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, after at least a decade (or two) of apprehension, I decided to take a workshop to learn how to paint portraits. Lora Murphy is an Irish artist I met a few years ago, and in September I attended the “Art and Soul Journey”, a 10 day trip to Ireland to learn about the people, places, and culture. The trip included art workshops offered by her and Kathryn Bevier at the Burren College of Art. I put what I learned from Lora on the back burner of my brain until most recently when I had to force myself to finally practice what she taught! It’s intimidating, trying to capture the essence of a personality, combined with accurate physical features. After several failed attempts I overcame insecurities and felt pretty good about this most recent self portrait attempt.

I used Lora’s color palette (her paints combine microcrystalline with encaustic) along with a strong contrast between lights, darks, shadows, and mid tones. Using her paints reminded me of watercolor – maintaining a focus on translucent layers and washes of color, always striving toward keeping the colors crisp and clean.

The portrait of Haley was challenging because there were very few shadows in the photo I used for reference. I tried to keep the skin tones pure and focused on facial planes more than the contrasting shadows.

Hopefully I will continue to practice painting portraits, I have my adult children I can use as models. It makes a difference to me that I am familiar (intimately) with the subject matter.

My self-portrait is currently included in “It Figures, 2017” at ARC Gallery

Exhibition dates: Nov 22 – Dec 16, 2017

Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12-6pm Sunday 12-4pm

http://www.arcgallery.org

2 thoughts on “Overcoming the Fear of Painting Portraits

  1. I think the workshop has paid dividends.
    Like the layout of your new web site.

    1. Thank you, Joe. I am always looking for the next challenge, the self portrait can be checked off my list now.

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