Friday, May 1, 2015

LB2015 : Feel the moment - expressive portrait finished

I shared my latest Life Book project by Jenny Wentworth in my previous post
I was feeling dissatisfied and left it at this point overnight, asking for feedback both here and in the Life Book FB group.
Although no-one left a comment here on my blog, I got some very useful advice through other channels. And let me say here if you every consider doing Life Book, the FB group is wonderfully supportive.
Here's some good advice as you and I work through tricky stages in our art :
Be kind to yourself : How does this piece add to your art journey? How is it part of your story this year? 
ANSWER : If I think about just 6 months ago, I couldn't even draw a face! The fact that I am blocked at this point means there is more to learn. And there are things about this that I really like.
Identify the details that you are missing 
What was it about the tutor's piece that you were drawn to? Are there specific parts that you can work on? 
ANSWER : I like the texture in Jenny's painting, and the softness. She has added many more layers than me to achieve the painterly effect.
Remember when I struggled with Seeds of Love (Life Book project shared in February)? 
I shared 3 useful questions to help you critique your work, and I used them again here.
1. What, specifically, don't you like? 
ANSWER : It doesn't look like the teacher's demo - I don't have her painterly look overall - my features are more defined/drawn in, and she has used many more colours/degrees of shading to suggest details
2. What details do you like? (so you can do it again, and share with someone who is struggling) 
ANSWERI think my face is pleasing - I like the features and that she looks kind
3. What are some ways you can improve on what you've done? - step away 4 steps and look at what the work might need 
ANSWERI could try adding more shading to get more interest in the face. I know I won't be able to call this finished until I have also paid more attention to texture in the background and her dress.
Another useful technique is to change your image to a black and white version to really show up the values
ANSWER : Wow - this is really telling. Here's my portrait when I left it the first time when I was unsatisfied. Seen in black & white
and here is my finished piece
In colour
I really like how the shading adds interest to her face. I also added more detail to her hair, her dress, and texture to the background, including white machine stitching to frame her.
and I am happy now with the completed portrait. Click on the photo to enjoy it larger.
The goal is to find your own art style, but I was worried that my work wasn't looking enough like someone else's!! I realised that Life Book lessons help you develop your own style, but not necessarily in ways you might expect. With every new lesson I am learning what I want to incorporate into my own work, and what I want to leave behind. This lesson was a reminder about value and shading, but she looks like something I alone would create, not a copy of the lesson, and that is exactly where I want to be.
We had our first fire last night! Welcome to May - looking forward to what new learnings will come....
You can see all my posts about Life Book HERE and I've created a Flickr album for all my Life Book projects HERE


  1. Hey what a difference! I love the eyes especially . . . natural rather than heavily made up. In fact the whole face has a lovely natural fresh look to it.

  2. I meant to leave a comment on the last post, but didn't have time at the moment. I came back to find that I missed the opportunity.

    Thank you for sharing your process. It is fascinating to read and I hope that I can remember some of your hints. I know they will be useful.

    I have to tell you that I love both of these versions! They are both artful and meaningful.

    This post has me quite inspired!

  3. "lessons help you develop your own style, but not necessarily in ways you might expect" Gosh, this is so true! Thanks for directing me to this post Lynette! Lots of useful bits of advice for pretty much the same issues I'm struggling with!

  4. Zsuzsa - Glad you found this post helpful all this time later. It was also good for me to revisit and remind myself of how to critique your own work.


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