It is finished. It took a month, dozens of glazes, and I have given up (and resumed) twice in the process.
I’ve been using a traditional glazing technique under instruction of my teacher. There were three hues used – Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow – single color glazes. I am not sure anymore how many glazes it took, I’ve lost count after 15, the total is probably as many as 25 in some places and as little as 2 in others.
The painting looked amazingly ugly until the very end. And this is why I have given up on it two times. I just didn’t have the heart to continue and be faced with my inadequacy. Interestingly I have been reading Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland while I was struggling with the glazes. I think this book is a must-read for every artist, it gives an insight what the fears are about. And while it doesn’t give a cure from the fear, it leaves you with a conscious choice of how to face it.
In the end I chose to persevere. I really wanted to know if I have what it takes. The other thing that kept me going was that I soft of knew that the ugly color splotches must gel into something coherent at some point (and everybody was saying so as well). I wanted to reach that point and see for myself. It happened in the evening of Dec. 9th. I painted the pupils and while they were drying was working on the background. And then I saw it – something happened to the painting, some threshold got reached after all this time, – there was skin where moments before I could only see color splotches. It was an amazing thing to experience. In honor of that moment and the book that helped me along I call this painting “Never fear!”
On a technical note, my teacher had me do several studies for this painting. I am posting them as well, my daughter aptly called them my “little monsters”: a graphite study, a brush drawing and 2 monochromatic value studies.
Quite a ride this was. While this work is rather wobbly and unsure, there are a couple things I am pleased with – I managed the likeness, expression and correct age.
5.5″ x 5.5″ (13 x 13 cm) on Arches CP, Cotman pans colors (these are my dad’s watercolors. It pleases me to no end that I am painting with my dad’s pigments!)