This week's topic was Daniel Day Lewis for the fb group - Caricaturama 3000- (now close to reaching 4000 members!!) It is an awesome outlet to meet other artists and share interpretations of the same subject.
I am going to show a somewhat typical breakdown of what happens when I DON'T do a solid sketch before painting - - it is a bit crazy. This is not to say I completely omit thumbnails or preliminary sketches from my process. It happens (100% of the time with client work) - But I find when painting, no matter how long I spend on a sketch, I am constantly re-evaluating and figuring things out during the process. Sometimes it feels like I do six paintings in one before reaching a final.
Given a tight schedule, this would definitely be an idiotic approach - but for now, I think it is helping me develop and understand different techniques, and what interests me the most.
words words words... now to see what I am talking about -
This was the first idea I was messing around with. I was trying to be all funny like, and missed the mark with the likeness completely! Ended up with a crooked nose Kevin Kline wannabe paint sketch (I am in a sharing mood, normally this would not see the light of day):
Okay scrapped that - decided to work full face again, and developed the eyes. I know it is best to really move all around the painting and not get too caught up in one area BUT, for me at least, if I really nail the eyes, I get really inspired about the rest of the painting. Boom, instant life.
Cool so I'm all happy with the eyes. Hours go by... what is going on, I CANNOT get the rest of this face to look like anything but a Billy Crudup, Kevin Kline, and Christian Bale love child. I don't know if this happens to other artists, but routinely my reference and painting start resembling other people in my brain. . .
One way to make it more difficult for yourself to nail the likeness: Lean too heavily on a reference that does not "look" like the subject(wise words from J. Seiler's class). How is this possible? It is a photo of them... so it IS them, how does it not look like them?? What if it is a shot of them mid sentence, chewing food, or a windy day and their hair is all funky making their head shape look unfamiliar, or they are made-up differently for a photo shoot... In my case, I realized I am most familiar with this actor in one movie - Gangs of New York - and if you have seen him in GNY, he has an oddball bangs, a crazy mustache covering a third of his face, and the expressions he delivers make him look like a different person entirely!
So once again it was back to the drawing board. I put on some youtube clips of him in that movie, and reworked(and in some areas overworked=/) the painting. I was sad because I liked the broad strokes, spark, and texture happening in the older version above - and by painting on top I lost a lot of that quality(it is hard for me to get that kind of effect later on, it ends up looking contrived). I did try to keep the focus in the central facial expression through higher contrast and detail in those areas, and balanced it with loose and more atmospheric lighting around his hair, clothes and chin. I feel like his chin area gets a bit wonky, and would have liked it a little less soft in some areas, but I do like the highlight intensity, because he seemed a bit oily/sweaty as that character=)
On a final note, don't be a chicken; share your work in progress to anyone who is willing to take a peek. They do not have to be an artist. When it comes to likeness, especially where well-known subjects are concerned, a fresh set of eyes can be a great help - Or, you can also get the same "fresh-eyes" effect by flipping your image in a different direction. And if working traditionally, holding your canvas in front of a mirror... Flaws will appear to you instantly.
I'd say "more soon" but that always makes me a liar, so "until next time..." =)