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WIP Self portrait #1

edited October 2017 in Painting
Doing the drawing for my self portrait. I have to ask my husband if there is,a,likeness, as I realized I really don't know what I look like. Is that common? Need to look up info on how to draw the nose, just not working.
Could not see yellow pencil I have on neutral background so drawing on white. Is there something  else I can use to draw with that is ok under oil. Who knows this could be a masterpiece. ; )


  • @Kschaben I don't know if you have painted from a photo or from life. If you have painted from life looking through a mirror, it will never completely look like you as it is an opposite image of you. Just change your hair part and you won't recognize yourself. So, these are just visual games that our brains play.

    Noses need to be painted a little smaller than what you see because they stick out, looking bigger. Just focus on shapes, distances and sizes + values. Don't be too concerned too much on color. If you put red instead of blue but with same value, it will work too (trust me on this). ;)
  • I have never really painted, this is my first. Well I did a landscape to learn how to use the paint. Thanks for your help. I am using a mirror this time. Just learning everything. Don't want to be one of those people who never get started. I so appreciate this forum and Marks generousity with his knowledge  and all that of all the people on  here. Thanks again @Kaustav
  • Kschaben

    Suggest you carefully measure and plot all of the facial landmarks as recommended by Mark.
    Use a waterproof permanent marker for these and be careful to observe them when painting.

    Likeness is firstly, about getting the large shapes correct and in proper relation to each other.
    Hairshape, jaw angle, eyeline, head centreline etc. this is about drawing with a pen, pencil or brush and it is worth spending a lot of time. Secondly, the small shapes. And thirdly, the small details - using right value in the right place to build form and dimension.

    If the large shapes don’t have a likeness the rest wont either, no matter how well done.


  • @dencal Thanks I have watched a lot of videos but must have missed the one on portraits. Ill go back and check. Taking my time will be the challenge, well I should say one of the challenges for me, but I can see it is vital to get get the foundation right. Thanks again for the help.
  • You can also do your drawing on paper and then transfer it to your canvas.  That's what I do.  Spray it with a fixative so you won't lose the drawing if you have to wipe off the paint.  If you draw directly onto the canvas you can use a very sharpened charcoal pencil.  Then spray with a fixative or go over the lines with the waterproof marker that Denis mentioned.  
  • edited October 2017
    Oh great I have charcoal pencils. I see winsor&newton has a fugitive  called artist fixative, is that what you are talking about? Seems to be many different types for different purposes. Thanks Ronna
  • I don't know a lot about fixatives.  The one I have says it can be used with oils.  See if the description mentions what mediums it can be used with.  I'm thinking it should be ok though.  Maybe someone here has more knowledge on this.  
  • @Kschaben, just make sure it says it can be used with oils on the label.
  • Kschaben said:
    Doing the drawing for my self portrait. I have to ask my husband if there is,a,likeness, as I realized I really don't know what I look like. Is that common?
    Women tell me that the older they get the more they look like their mothers.  If this is true, and you really can't tell what you look like, maybe select a photo of your mother to paint.  One taken when she was your age now.  In my case, I look exactly like my grandmother, so I will paint her as a self portrait.  It's on my bucket list.  Something to consider, maybe.  Hope this helps.  Summer
  • Don't look like my mom or grandmothers. Not sure,what rock they found me under. I'll just use the mirror. I just found it odd , when I drew my husband I could recognize it as him. But when I drew myself, which technically is a,better drawing not so much. Thanks for the suggestion. It's just a ,loose sketch so maybe when I finish it.
  • edited October 2017
    @dencal I found the video about the points. Thanks again.
  • Summer said:
    Kschaben said:
    Doing the drawing for my self portrait. I have to ask my husband if there is,a,likeness, as I realized I really don't know what I look like. Is that common?
    Women tell me that the older they get the more they look like their mothers.  If this is true, and you really can't tell what you look like, maybe select a photo of your mother to paint.  One taken when she was your age now.  In my case, I look exactly like my grandmother, so I will paint her as a self portrait.  It's on my bucket list.  Something to consider, maybe.  Hope this helps.  Summer
    I actually take after my dad......bit of a worry.
  • Boudicca

    Relax. My daughter is confirmation that it’s all good.

    It’s the recessive gene you need to worry about.


  • edited October 2017
    Question :  When painting from a mirror image how do you  decide what to use as a background color or does it matter?  I was watching a video that said you have to compensate for your background color in the shadows. This might be a ridiculous question, but I won't know if I don't ask. Any help appreciated
  • I have a heck of a time with backgrounds. I am sure what you are talking about is a thing, but I have no idea what the guidelines are. I wish Mark would do a video about how to compose and paint backgrounds. I have a lot of room to improve in that area.
  • It was one of Marks Q &A video that talked about changing your background color after you get started. He said your background should be the thing to consider. Maybe I should drape something behind me.  I was hoping just to put color on the canvas but if that color has to be reflected in the portrait  I would not yet know how to do that as this is my first. 
  • Commitment. Not sure if you can see this but it is my sketch. I could not get my pencil to to draw on the stained canvas so now I need to cover the canvas so it is not white nut I can see at least an outline of the sketch I guess.
  • I find posting a WIP thread is motivating, but more importantly, you're going to get good feedback from folks, provided you post often and talk about the assorted difficulties.  Looks like a good sketch, although I can't speak for the likeness.

    Are you familiar with Mark's words about those key points, and not moving them?

    Very good start.  You may come to regret the lack of staining, we'll see.
  • edited October 2017
    Yes I already do regret not staininYes I already do regret not staining huge mistake. I drew this not knowing what to use instead of my yellow pencil, which is The wrong kind to start with.
    So I had,a brilliant idea of trying to cover the canvas board , which may or may not help but it did not work like I hoped. Advice : stain canvas be for you start. Patence I think is the key. Maybe I will learn patence by the time I am done with this one. Here is Mt effort to cover the canvas.
    Thanks . I have gone from I think I can to I hope I can. Some one  said I could use charcoal but mark says that will bleed through I think. Maybe I am thinking of a pencil. Well anyway I got started. The only way is up now.Yes on the point , I drew a grin on my mirror to make sure my face is always in the same place and hopefully I will be able to keep my feature in place. When I do mt number ten painting I will use a photo instead. the mirror is very difficult to keep things aligned but Mark suggest painting from life as much as you can so this is life.

  • I forgot to say it is on 16 x 20  what I call canvas board and using WMO.
  • You could go over your drawing in burnt umber and then use your WMO's with a lot of water to stain the face.

    Or, you could make sure you colour check and then paint on the white - it's not a problem if you stick to the values that you have colour checked.
  • edited October 2017
    I think I will do the color checking and see what happens. Thanks @Richard_P
  • @Kschaben I really encourage you to keep moving forward as we really only truly learn when we 'Do. I can't tell you how often I've said the same thing to myself... patience, patience, patience! Your sketch Is a good beginning. I think it's very helpful for you to post here so you can get feedback as you move a long on this painting. 
  • edited October 2017
    Thanks for the encouragement.  I will keep going and going and going, I enjoy this very much. Also very grateful for any help along the way.
  • I just watched a video where Mark says he has never done a self portrait. I am using a mirror to do my self portrait. My question is how do you use a color checker and balance your whites if the same light is on both your checker and you source?

  • I think i just found the answer on the color checker video. if both are in the same amount of light your good. It's like painting out side in the sun. If I understand correctly.
  • That's my understanding too - you want the color checker and the subject lit the same.  The canvas doesn't matter as much.
  • OK, so I do the color steps for the whole painting, but they are just for reference for later and only small amounts right? Or do I need use bits of it as I go so the steps need to be big enough so as not to dry out through the duration of the painting.  Or do I just say do all the steps for the hair while working on that, the skin while working on that and the clothing while working on that?
  • First identify your color groups.  A good example might be two groups, hair, and face.  Later clothes.

    You can mix one or both groups of steps.  I’d do just one, but that means you’re painting the face from start to finish, before moving on to hair.  Mix amounts that are on the generous side.  This will help you as Mark says for making up intermediate steps, brush cleaning etc.  You’ll waste a little maybe, but only on the first few paintings.  You’ll get a sense of how much you need with experience, and waste less.  If you mix too little, you’ll run out and have to mix up more of the same.  You might enjoy the mixing practice, or you may prefer to focus on painting rather than mixing.  It doesn’t really matter.

    There’s a chance you can use or remix leftover paint for the next color group.  But you’ll also need leftover paint at the end when you’re playing spot the difference.
  • Because I did not stain the canvas I have just been trying to figure out how to cover the canvas without loosing the drawing yet. well this was my effort. It is covered. That's all I can say. One thing it helps me see better where changes need to be made.  Since I already had it drawn I could not take some of the advice above but will keep it in my book of knowledge for future reference. I sure hope I can make this look like something by the end. For newbies so far this is how not to do this.
    @Julianna , thanks for the video , i will try doing more of a side view next time also.
    open to suggestion and will try to apply , thank everyone. next step is mixing colors. I can tell that is going to take me some time. I just keep trying to remember you all were here once too and have learned many thinks I need to learn. That way not so embarrassed to show you.
  • No worrries @KSchaben, you just did the stain after some paint, no big deal.  But you should let that stain dry first.

    Now are you happy with the feature placement?  Specifically the ones Mark mentions - corners of the eyes, corners of the mouth, nostrils, nose width, chin, hairline, ears.  If you're not happy with any of that, moving it now is easier than moving it later.
  • # PaulB : Yes i need to go back and remark it all.  What I have seen is that it is easy to move it at this stage, well I won't say easy at least not for me but possible. Thanks for your input I do appreciate it.
  • Working on fixing the under painting.
  • Taking a picture really helps me to see through others eye. Lots of fixen needed still.
  • I take photos in my studio as I go along as well, 'cause I see it differently, very encouraging! It's good to take your time. 
  • @Forgiveness thanks. Very hard not to get pig nose as I have turned up nose to start with. The eyes seem large, what do you think.? 
  • In my approach in my portrait, I am making such adjustments with the paint as I go along, similar to drawing and works out great. Not to worry about the under drawing, it's what you do with the paint on top of that. I use my proportional divider often to keep with accurate measurements. Your eyes maybe too large, or the space between the eyes should measure one eye exactly.
  • Do you use a mirror @ forgiveness?
  • Not on this occasion for this present one, but soon from a mirror, looking forward to that!
  • It's a challenge for sure. I don't draw or paint so learning it all at the same time. Its fun though. I am enjoying it. I look forward to seeing yours @firgivenesd. You are so talented at drawing. Its,amazing.
  • Well, I just could not figure out how to do color matching in the mirror so I decided to use what I had mixed on the palette to cover the canvas and then see what I could do. Well, not so hot. but the reason I did this one was to show where I am now and where I am a year from now so in that respect it was a success. But for now, I will stick to still life and pictures and try to learn to use the color checker and work on my drawing skills. Can't even begin to put eyelashes on. I tried a few times removed them and tried again unsuccessfully. I thought I did make progress on the nose with no lines and no pig nose so not a complete loss. 

  • PaulBPaulB -
    edited October 2017
    This is a good first portrait.  You've done a lot of this right.  The drawing is proportional, by which I mean the placement of the features, width versus height etc, and all look good.  You've got lots of detail in there.  I wouldn't concern yourself with eyelashes, that's too fine a detail for now.

    You've taken on a lot with this project - drawing, color checking, color mixing and on top of all that, a mirror portrait no less, renowned for being difficult.

    Color checking should be your next challenge, I suggest.  This painting shows minimal tonal variation, and I'll bet there was more in the mirror than you were able to capture in this one.  For example, the shirt has a uniform pink/white color, and there are no visible folds, shadows, seams or anything.  The values under the ear, under the chin are probably darker, unless of course you had a strong light shining in your face.  I think this means that more color checking would be really helpful.

    I would suggest getting a still life with some nice directional light that throws strong shadows and shows bold form, light and dark, maybe even reflections.

    Good work, keep it up.
  • Yes, the shirt did not exist I just put that there. I was a little discouraged and just quit so I could start at the beginning of Marks training. I just got caughtvup on you all doing portraits. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.  Yes I think your right with the color checking. It was impossible for me in the miiror at this point.  Still life will teach me a lot about color checking I think.thanks again.
  • Great job. I gave up on mirrors a long time ago (too long after they gave up on me though). 
  • I've enjoyed reading your posts.  Your trials and troubles while working your way through your painting was interesting.  I think you have done a remarkable job for a first painting.  Practice is the most important aspect of learning anything.  Keep up the effort and you will be turning out lovely paintings before you know it.
  • @oldpainter1950,  Thanks, I look forward to turning out an apple that looks like an apple.
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