Once More, with Feeling

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I took my own advice from yesterday, and stayed with a portrait of a single figure. The subject of today’s portrait is none other than my older brother Mike. For those of you who have been following my blog, Mike is autistic, low functioning and has never spoken. I have taken many photographs of him over the years but lately, my latest watercolor experiments (Portrait, Distance, Peripatetic Rest Stop, Family) were inspired photographs I took during our family visit, last November (2013).

The portrait below is a slightly different take from the portrait from last week (Post Doodling), and I think it shows a bit of an improvement.

Watercolor Painting - Portrait of Mike

Mike Portrait
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I have used more bold contrasts between the darker and lighter areas. I found this difficult because the difference in tonal values in the photograph was very slight. I would like to exaggerate the difference in contrast even more. This would mean inspecting the planes of the photograph very carefully. Perhaps a high-contrast rendering would show me the positions and shapes of the appropriate planes. Once I have them, I’m sure the result would be a portrait with the appearance of three dimensions.

I had intended to supply a background in the painting, but since discretion is the better part of valor, I decided to leave well enough alone. I had a half-formed idea of applying a thin outline of dark coloring around the outline of the head, after wetting the paper. The result would have been a halo effect of dispersed dark color. Perhaps I should try this after I have another, better portrait.

On a final note, no matter how I render Mike’s left eye, it always seems to be looking at me. This is not what the photo shows. In the photo, Mike seems to be looking past me. Since I am the artist, I suppose I can do anything I want. There is probably a psychological reason that I make my brother look at me. On the other hand, perhaps at this point, I only know how to paint eyes that look at me. One of my next exercises should be to paint a row of disinterested eyeballs, just so I get the hang of it.

2 thoughts on “Once More, with Feeling

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