Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last Painting of the Year

Abdul Mahmood
Oil on linen panel, 16"x12"

Here's my last painting of 2014.  Obviously, it's not done from life - I based it on one of my "Faces of Afghanistan" drawings fleshed out with stuff pulled from a raggedy photo.  It captures the feeling of a real farmer that I knew in Afghanistan.

I did this as an experiment.  A few days ago, I saw some really powerful portraits from another artist.  I noticed some techniques he used that made the paintings so effective and wanted to try them out.  That artist was also a caricaturist.  As I've said before, doing caricatures is a great way to learn how to do portraits, because you zero in on the things that make each individual unique.  Caricatures greatly exaggerate those features, of course, but if the features are only slightly exaggerated, the result could be a really good portrait.

This farmer has a very narrow face in real life.  I played up the narrowness a little bit, and lengthened it just a smidge, and the result turned out pretty well.  I also paid a lot of attention to the colors, planes, and folds of his face.  These details seem to obscure the fact that the structure of the face is slightly exaggerated.

There were some other techniques that the other artist used that I tried to do, but couldn't.  They worked very well for him, but just felt wrong to me.  I've had that experience many times.  Copying another artist's work, or imitating his style, is a great way to add new tools to your painting toolkit.  But if the tool doesn't work for you, don't use it.

I hope you have a great New Year's!

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