I’ve taken a few pictures along the way for the last two paintings I’ve done …
My son offered to sit for a portrait painting recently: “I’ll be your live model, Mummy! You can do a painting of me!”
He sat very diligently for 10 minutes, trying not to move a muscle:
After a little break he sat for a further 5 minutes during which he was very interested in the painting process. He jumped out of his seat every few seconds to check the progress of the painting.
“When you look at me, Mummy, I make sure my eyes are looking in your eyes, because I like paintings where the people seem like they are looking at you.”
“Are you going to paint the chair? What about the window behind me? Does it matter where I put my hands? Will you be painting my hands?”
“When you look away, I wriggle around, then I sit very still again when you look back at me.”
“When are you going to add colour?”
We tried a further 10 minute session. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of the painting at this stage but you can see it on this photo of my pinboard.
Liam was very restless during this session and wasn’t keen to sit any more, so I took a few photos of him and finished the portrait from the photos. This is after 2 more hours of painting…
I finished the picture after another hour or so. I feel as though his face is slightly too long or narrow … or something, but I still like the picture and Liam is very satisfied with the outcome!
My next challenge is to encourage my daughter to sit for me.
Those of you following my Facebook page couldn’t help but notice that I HAVE A NEW STUDIO. This is the (tidy) studio just after I received my custom-made pinboard from Designer Pinboards.
I’ve been churning out some small oil studies of my fellow JKPP artists to get back into a painting routine. I have started each picture with a sketch in burnt sienna then coloured it in. Essentially. Some progress shots:
The colour palette I have been using most is permanent rose/quinacrodine violet, naples yellow, yellow ochre, lemon yellow, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and titanium white. Occasionally with a bit of indian red, payne’s grey or pthalo blue thrown in.
Inspired by David Jon Kassan’s parallel palette, I have been clipping my palette to my easel:
I am currently working on a painting of my son which we started with live sittings. He lasted a total of 20 minutes. Keep an eye out for the finished work!
I snapped a few shots with my iPhone along the way during my portrait of Kris. Unfortunately, they’re a bit blurry, but you can still follow my progress.
The interesting thing is that by the time I was at about the fourth photo, I was thinking of scrapping the picture and moving on to something else. I just didn’t think I’d be able to get it to work.
By the next photo, it was under control. So the message to all of you quietly and privately dabbling in the arts – and I know there are a lot of you! – is persevere.
The paper I am using is PastelMat paper which I order online from Dakota Pastels in America. The postage costs more than the paper – but I love the smoothness of it. I have also recently tried the Art Spectrum Colourfix Suede paper which may be equally good and available in Australia. At over $7.00 a sheet, you wouldn’t want to use it for practice paper!
This is where I was about to give up… then I had another crack at the eyes and smile… et voila, redemption.
I added a bit more depth to the background here by mixing some of the magenta in with the turquoise. This gorgeous turquoise, which I think I am going to marry, is a silky smooth and soft pastel stick from Schminke. I used my birthday Art Scene gift card to buy a small and costly set of Schminkes. I have a full set of Art Spectrums and a set of extra dark pastels by Terry Ludwig which I also buy online from my trusty US pastel shop, Dakota Pastels. Dakota looks like a lolly shop for pastel artists. It’s probably a good thing it’s on the other side of the globe.
“How’s your cochlear implant going? Why haven’t you updated your blog?”
Lists are always so tedious to read…. and a catalogue of the sounds I am hearing with my implant (CI) would bore even me!
I am embarrassed to admit that I have been a little slack with my training over the holidays but I’ve been inspired by a few things this week.
Every year in November, the Wetcanvas portrait forum holds an international portrait swap. Last year, I did an oil painting of Melissa from Michigan, USA.
This year I was partnered with Edgar who studies at Meadowbank TAFE less than 5 minutes from my house! Not terribly international but that’s the way the chalk pastel crumbles.
Hmmm… anyway, here are the progress shots of my pastel drawing of Edgar.
I also did a charcoal drawing of him for good measure:
This was what I thought would happen at my cochlear implant switch on: I would hear, with wonder and excitement, all the sounds that Carol, my audiologist played. I would hear simple environmental sounds, and would leave the session amazed by the sudden loudness around me.
It did happen – a week later at my first re-mapping session!
So I missed out on that powerful “WOW! I can hear!” switch on moment with my family. But I have been privately (and sometimes not-so-privately) marvelling at the ever-increasing number of sounds I can hear with the implant.
There have been a few surprises, the biggest being that buttering bread makes a sound – a very, very subtle sound, but it qualifies.
After my second re-mapping session, I started to hear even more sounds with just my implant: my hand dipping into the washing-up water; the swish of a broom; cars passing on the street; water boiling in a pot. I could even hear my daughter playing violin two rooms away!
I have progressed with my rehabilitation programme from understanding individual animal names (what is a chinchilla??) to full, allegedly commonly used, sentences (“A sullen smile makes few friends”).
Still, I get frustrated when I make mistakes, as I did during my last visit with Carol. To reassure me, she admitted that I had exceeded her expectations: she thought that at this stage, we would be in the children’s room trying to identify sounds using toys. She did not expect that I would be up to words and sentences. Yay, me!
It’s not all roses: because I am hearing a lot more through the implant, and the quality of the hearing is a little muffled and electronic, my comprehension when wearing both my hearing aid and implant is actually reduced. In some ways, it feels like a step backwards. I need to persevere and be patient: it can take many months for the brain to normalise the sound from the implant.
Having said that, some of the simple sounds I started to hear after switch on already seem normal.
What I need is motivation! I have been reading about neuroplasticity and have picked out these two points that I think are relevant to my situation:
So… I’m spending as much time as I can at home wearing just the implant, forcing the brain to rely on the bad ear… and I’m still plugging myself into the computer, focussing on my rehabilitation. You should see my poor kids trying to talk to me when I am just wearing the implant! “Uh… about 11, sir.”*
A lot of people ask me how the implant is going, with such a hopeful look – they want me to say that it is fantastic and life-changing. I want to say that too, and maybe I will be able to in a few months. Right now, I feel as though I am studying for the mother of all exams.
So I am standing in the kitchen, listening to the kids’ breakfast cooking, marvelling at how far I have come in two weeks…. And realise that one sound I can’t yet hear is the egg timer. Oops…
* Just in case you don’t get that reference
I’ve been a bit neglectful of my portraits in the last few weeks as I have been pre-occupied with my new Cochlear Implant. A lot of people have been asking me how it is going, so I am blogging off-topic today…
I have been deaf in my left ear for as long as I can remember. For the most part, this has been no more than an inconvenience: I might miss some witty repartee from a dinner guest sitting to my left and as a child, I was completely rubbish at the pool game Marco Polo.
As I began to lose hearing in my right ear, having one useless ear started to become a problem. I made enquiries about getting a cochlear implant in my deaf ear about four years ago. The advice I received at the time was that, due to the length of time that I had been deaf, the most I would be able to hear with an implant would be environmental sounds. In short, it wouldn’t be worth it.
Instead, I bought a better hearing aid for my “good” ear and soldiered on. By the start of this year, my hearing had deteriorated to a significant degree, and the advice I was receiving had changed.
It seems that some people with long term deafness have now received good outcomes after a year of practice and auditory training.
The earlier concern expressed by professionals that the artificial, electronic hearing provided by the implant would clash with the natural hearing in the other, better ear has also fallen by the wayside: it seems that over time, the brain assimilates the artificial hearing with the natural and perceives all the sounds as “normal”.
Now, I was being told that I had nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
So on 3 October 2012, I had Cochlear Implant surgery in my left ear.
I’ve had another go at the oil pastel portrait technique David White showed me. I thought I would try to use the pastels in a more painterly way as Jacquie has such beautiful, smooth skin. I found I could blend the colours subtly by working them over each other repeatedly. There still is quite a lot of line, but I think less than my previous oil pastel drawings. Or perhaps it just looks less scribbly.
Here is the charcoal sketch:
I covered the sketch with an ultramarine blue ink wash then lathered it with oil pastels. The pastel layer is so think it looks impasto in places.
I spent two hours essentially colouring in. As a child, I never, ever won a colouring competition. I reckon I’d kick it in, now. Wonder if I can get away with entering under my daughter’s name…
I don’t know whether the rest of you are the same, but I seem to have bursts of obsession with particular media. I might spend a month making a mess with charcoal, the next, covered in pastel dust then weeks mixing oils. Today, I fell back into iPad painting with Artrage… and wondered how I could have neglected it for so long.
I’m still very messy, technique-wise, and struggle a little with the small scale but I can’t deny that it is addictive.
Here are a few screen shots along the way – complete with notifications from the many games my children have installed on my iPad.
I start with my usual pencil sketch, then block in flesh tones with oils. I still have colours used previously on my palette which saves me a lot of mixing time.