Expressive Portrait, done!

Yus.  Done with the Expressive Portrait!  Though I kind of look like a homeless dude lit by a campfire.

Maybe it’s just the hoodie.  Probably…

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not planning to post images of this one, though I can post about experiences.  It was my first time working with gel medium and palette knives — for a beginner, the plastic ones were fine.  I have yet to see how long that gel is going to take to dry…I’m planning on taking in both the painting and the original study on newsprint.  I think I’ll get a good grade on this one, but just as importantly — or maybe moreso — I got a decent response out of myself without overworking myself, and on time.

That was after spending $50 and about an hour at the art supply store in preparation for the next project.  Yes yes.  I know.  Earth Day, special sales.  By the way, happy Earth Day.  🙂  I totally didn’t know, until it came on TV.

I did pass up a tube of Payne’s Grey, today.  I probably should have gotten it — it wasn’t expensive.  It’s an earthtone, a dark blue-grey which is really pretty.  I could have used it to mix shadows (it probably would have ended up a more neutral tone when combined with most of the other earthtones I have, save Raw Umber), but ended up using Ivory Black instead.  Ivory Black is a warm-toned black — it leans more brown than blue — also known as Bone Black.

This is in contrast to Mars Black (which I have a lot of), which is a very cold black.  Ivory Black is bone charcoal; Mars Black is an iron oxide.  I want to use the two together in some kind of work influenced by Chinese brush paintings.  It’s really interesting when they’re seen side by side, because they really obviously are two different colors of black, then.  If I were totally going for authenticity (not going to happen), I might want to use watercolors, but acrylics are kind of cool, too; they just have really different working properties.

But yes yes.  Painting is going to be a new hobby, I can tell.  I kind of fell in love with the Blick soft pastels when I was pushed to use them, this last time, though all I was doing was drawing and moving the pigment around with my fingers and blending stomps.  Like Prof said, it’s a good middle ground between drawing and painting…and by this I think she is referring to painting as working with areas of color, as versus line.

She also said during the last critique, though, that pastels — their binder is gum arabic.  This means that if they get wet with water, the gum may dissolve and adhere the pigment to the paper on drying, though she also said she hasn’t gotten it to work well, yet.  I’m thinking of trying a fixative I know of which is relatively high-maintenance, but is nontoxic and can be used indoors.  This is after having used the Krylon stuff.

The advantage of the Krylon is that it doesn’t seem to warp pastel paper at all.  The disadvantage is the toxicity and fire hazard, which can lead some people (like me) to try and avoid using pastels at all because of the fact that they’re so fragile and need sealant that I don’t want to use.  That’s what happened on my last major drawing (the white on black, on which, I ended up using the white Drawing Pencil, because I didn’t think I’d have time to put another coat of fixative on it).

But — the portrait study I did is very — I mean, it’s really nice.  It’s not photorealistic, but it’s still nice…and I wasn’t able to replicate what I did in the pastel, in acrylics.  Either I’m just not skilled enough yet (very probable), or there is just something about the pastel medium that allows such deep color mixing that it can only be approximated in acrylic paint (also likely).

I did the study on newsprint and didn’t realize it then, but I think that when I make art with no attachment as to whether the final product turns out “good” or not (and what is “good”?), I make much better art.  I’ve connected this with the “Mindfulness” tangent that I’ve worked with before.  There are some media which require seemingly continual alertness, just like meditation or martial arts.  Working without an attachment to the end product is really pretty Zen.  You’re working just to experience the working.

When I was finishing my portrait on the canvas today, I realized that what I needed to do to get to work on it was give myself permission not to be perfect in my execution, and to be open to the possibility of making something which wouldn’t live up to my standards.  Last semester our prof (a different prof) was telling us that engaging with the process was the important part, not coming out with a masterpiece every time.  It’s kind of actually nice to have teachers who have struggled with some of these key issues (perfectionism, fear of engagement) themselves, you know?

I’ve got to go back to the home improvement store to get another plywood panel; while I’m there, I should get some dust masks to use against nuisance dusts — as the pastels I will be using are AP Nontoxic.  I know they’ll have the 3M brand, there, which I trust more than the generic knock-offs I sometimes find at art and craft stores.  I suppose I can also take a look and see if they have organics cartridges for respirators, just in case I don’t get the milk-casein fixative and have to spray that stuff again…I can only hold my breath for so long.

There’s also a plastics store I can go to, to try and find huge sheets of acetate for our next project…though I’m thinking the gauge on the handout was a typo.  I’ll ask about it tomorrow.

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paintedstone

Haru ("Codey") is a second-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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