Project 2 – Conclusion on my portrait paintings

What technical demands did you encounter?
=> Mastering various media (e.g. oil sticks) was a challenge. Also I noticed that I am tending to work rather realistic and concerned about accuracy when working on larger scale and when spending more time at my easel. More distance to my easel and with less preparation work and less time typically allows me to be more expressive and my painting approach becomes more direct.

How hard did you find the interpretative element of portrait painting?
=> Working more expressive and directly with paint on the support helps me to be more spontaneous and I could be more explorative in finding right expression while painting. Trying to phrase intended expression into words helped to focus on key elements. Nevertheless I do feel as if I did not achieve the level in interpretation in painting portraits as I wish. Perhaps some of my more loose daily self-portraits are coming closer to that (e.g. #15, 18, 45). But maybe this is because I am struggling with interpretative elements versus likeness. Can a free and interpretative portrait still have some likeness? I think I need to do some research. For the time being Francis Bacon’s portraits come to my mind. His portrait of L Freud doesn’t seem to have a likeness. Although I’ve read somewhere that Freud or a friend mentioned that those portraits do show characteristics features?

Most successful portraits are:

  • Those that were more interactive with media and support (e.g. P2Ex3, daily self-portrait #15, 17, 47)
  • Those that were less deprived by too much preparation and thinking about accuracy (P2Ex3 #2)
  • Paintings in acrylic were more successful when I worked rather expressive (daily self-portrait #5, 31) and with knife and other tools on textured support (see daily self portrait #17, 18,
  • Paintings in pastels were more successful when I explored more media and space rather than trying to modulate form (daily self-portrait #15, 47)
  • Paintings in oil are typically taking more time. I thing those are more successful where I applied pre mixed colour pads on the support and not blending them much together (P4Ex1)
  • In general I find that my paintings at smaller scale (e.g. P4Ex2 – #1) were more successful compared to those on larger scale (e.g. P4Ex2 – #2)

Painting in oil pastels and oil sticks were not that successful – mainly for technical reasons. Overall I am pleased with the level of likeness I achieved with my paintings. I found my daily self portrait project tremendously helpful in order to get loose and to sharpen my observational skills. Also I learned with time more to get quicker to expressive perceptions of my paintings.

My Portrait painting from the exercises project 2:



My self-portraits from my parallel personal project (one self-portrait a day). So far 49 painting in 7 weeks:

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