Sunday, August 8, 2010

Self Portrait II

Self Portrait II
8x10 inches
Coloured pencil, pastel, graphite pencil on paper
In the last week, I have redone this self portrait about 6 or 7 times on all different supports, (I am so fed up with it and hope I never have to draw it again!!!), as I am looking to change my style a bit with the commissioned portrait work, opting for a softer look. The drafting film is wonderful for achieving smooth skin for portraits when working with graphite, but I often ran into problems at the point of applying fixative, and had to redo several portraits as a result. When it comes to working with coloured pencils, it was much harder to get a nice smooth skin tone on the drafting film, and so I spent a rather frustrating week shuffling between the art shop and the easel in the search for that elusive support that would solve all problems. I must give a huge thanks to Bec Winnel - an extremely talented artist I came across on RedBubble, who does the most beautiful, etherial illustrations of women, and was kind enough to share some of her tips. She works on Epson Archival Matte paper and I was amazed to find how well this surface grabs the pastel powder. It also accepts coloured pencil and graphite very well, and happily there are no issues when applying fixative. The biggest problem I had with this artwork was getting an effective scan - the original is very soft, but for some reason the scanner didn't like that and gave it a dirty, grey appearance, so this image has been altered digitally in an attempt to match the original.


Debra Keirce said...

I think self portraits are the hardest portraits to paint. It's nice to see the bottom half of your face. And you've inspired me again. I use the Epson matte paper for printing on my laser printer sometimes, but I never thought to use it as a substrate. It does have a great "grab" to the surface, so I can see why it works well. I too have struggled with the colored pencil on drafting film. I was going to try the dura lar...I just got some.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful portrait Karen and a beautiful lady too.
You have so much patience do the same portrait so many times. I can understand your frustration with surfaces. I have seen Bec's work on Red Bubble..Her work is lovely and it was so nice of her to pass on tips on supports she uses.
You are also an amazing artist Karen. I admire your work so much.

I am so glad you have found a surface that you feel happy with for portraiture.

Sue Clinker said...

That's really interesting Karen ... is the Epson archival paper simply 'photocopy' type paper? and can you get sizes larger than A4?

I've used cps on Ultrawhite Mellotex paper (bought via Mike Sibley) and managed to get a very smooth skintone finish but, like drafting film, Mellotex doesn't hold many layers of cps so is probably best for use with graphite. As you work so much with drafting film you might like Mellotex? I doubt you could use pastel on it though.

and your self-portrait is lovely :o)

Autumn Leaves said...

You are beautiful Karen, and so is this portrait!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much Deb, Dors, Sue and Sherry for your lovely comments!!!
Deb is the Dura lar very different to the drafting film?
Yes Sue, the Epson archival matte is regular photo paper with a matte surface and it does come in an A3 I think, but I could only find that on-line. Thank you for the hint about the Mellotex - I love trying out different surfaces.

Mona Diane Conner said...

You have such a delicate hand in your art Karen, and I love how this self-portrait shows another dimension of you.

Carol Andre' said...

Karen- it's so nice to hear of another artist's struggles at times- that way we know we aren't alone out there! I'm still looking for that "all perfect" surface- does it really exist? I've come close, but there's always "something" not quite what I want about each one I try, no matter what the medium it seems! Thanks for posting this- now we know you've got the same issues we all do! ;)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comments Mona and Carol!!! :)
I guess it is because there is no magic surface or medium that makes it all the more remarkable when artists create beautiful artworks. I suppose it isn't meant to come easily Carol, but wouldn't it be lovely if it did!!!

Artoholic said...

Ooooh, I LIKE that softness - it appears as if you're floating up out of the background - just gorgeous!

Was there a lot of pastel involved? The combination of pastel and pencil is excellent.

I went to the opening of the Pastel Society's annual Ex last night, and once again I'm in love with pastels. Some really unusual stuff this time, and some really B I G pieces which were stunning.

After I've laid down my washes on the 2 big canvases I'm getting out my pastels for a play - I might try it on the Hanemuhle inkjet rag papers I've got.

You're an inspiration Karen - keep it up!



Unknown said...

Thank you Cindy - you're a darling!!! After I did this one, I started on my commissioned piece using the same mediums and it just went nowhere, so I started again using acrylics on the Canson Mi-Teintes Tex and was so happy with the end result, I've pulled all listings for pencil portraits and am going to do painted portraits from now on. The only problem is that the parents of the little girl (the commission piece) don't want her picture on-line so I will have to do a few more to use for my listings.

Artoholic said...

You mean acrylic paint??? I don't think I've ever seen one of your pieces in acrylic!

Wow! I can't wait - the suspense will kill me!