One thing is for sure with this competition; I am getting access to places and experiences that I would never ordinarily have. Even with the difficulties I am having adjusting to working in such restrictive conditions, I would do it again – just for the experience!
Challenge 1 – Self Portrait
So yet again having a bad second challenge in the previous episode on animals, I needed to regain some confidence and return to a way of doing things that I was familiar with for work that I do at home: acrylics in a more conventional way (i.e. as opposed to pointillism).
I had suspected beforehand that a self-portrait would be likely and so at least I gained some confidence from knowing what I would be approaching, and in the end I was pretty pleased with the result. The only issue was the eyes. They are clearly looking in different directions!
It was Daphne who explained why this was so to me, and that it is peculiar to only this type of painting, i.e. a self-portrait. In particular it is also only an issue when doing a “live” self-portrait. By that I mean looking at yourself in a mirror rather than from a photograph. When you look in the mirror to do one eye you paint that eye looking a certain direction. However, then you then switch to look at the other eye in the mirror your eyes change direction, and so you paint the other eye looking in different direction. The result is that you can paint yourself with crossed eyes – exactly my problem!
Simple error, but one that I wasn’t aware of, as I hadn’t done a self-portrait before, and the stress of the situation makes it really difficult to make objecting assessments about your painting during the challenge.
Challenge 2 – Celebrity Portrait
I have to say that I was more than a little “phased” by having a childhood icon, Angels Rippon, step out as our sitter. Due to my age, I think I would have been the only one to recognise her. The other group had Floella Benjamin, whom I also remember from Jackanory (a children’s story time program), but I think I would have found less imposing than the person I remember from reading the main BBC news programs, and then the legendary Morecombe and Wise dance sketch!
However, having done a reasonable job in the first challenge I felt some confidence, as well as trepidation, going into the second. Maybe I can blame this on my next decision: to use oils and a palette knife!
The program gives a hint at my reasoning for using oils. I usually glaze acrylics to smooth out areas that appear blotchy when I have tried to blend features. Acrylics dry too fast for me to blend them entirely smoothly, and so glazing over afterwards helps, however I have not found time in the challenges so far to do this. I think this is one of the reasons I didn’t like how I started the second challenge of the landscapes – the one of Hastings seafront – and changed to pointillism half way through.
So, I can retrospectively just about sanction my decision to use oils, but the palette knife? The only thing I can think of for making that choice was that my recent attempts at oil painting with a brush (very limited – maybe twice - in the last 30 years) have lead to muddied results. Anyhow, two new things was a step too far!
I remember that I seriously considered ditching the painting during our lunch break, which was about half way through, but just decided against it. As it was, Pascal had me effectively ditch most of my efforts with 20 minutes to go anyhow! What is it with Pascal, me, and paintings with 20 minutes to go?
I am still not sure that I managed to get a more effective likeness after these changes, but it certainly looks less interesting to my eye.
So, another poor second challenge! This is becoming a bit of a habit – a reasonable first short challenge, and then a problematic one in the longer format. Strange, as I would have thought I would have had greater issues with the shorter challenge, but at least this means I can work quickly. I now just have to adapt that to not messing things up with a little more time.