Looking back at past assignments from this course, I have looked at the paintings which I felt were most successful and that I enjoyed painting. I have always enjoyed drawing the human figure and new this was an area where I wanted to improve and challenge myself more, especially portraits.
There is one painting in particular which I enjoyed painting and that was in part 3, project- looking at faces, exercise: creating mood and atmosphere. For this piece I painted a Rastafarian guitarist with quite an impasto feel. I really liked the atmosphere of the dark background
There were areas of this painting which I found difficult to resolve, for example the hands.
I enjoy a challenge, because when things go right it’s much more rewarding.
I think the music theme has worked well here, so felt that it made sense to continue with it, especially as I have access to new up and coming musicians. I also had in mind that I could include this painting in with my assignment pieces at a later date.
I started by looking on Google, for images with the same genre that had been painted by different artists. Below are some of the images I found.
I tried to find some very different examples of how artists have portrayed the music theme, from very bright impasto impressions to the sharper images set in a moody background.
I love bright colours but I also think the darker backgrounds help to set an atmosphere.
I like the way the background in the image above fades from darker blue to lighter blue.
I particularly like the way the violinist above is painted, the hair and skin colours jump out against the dark background.
This selection of paintings above have a more dreamy feel to them. It’s almost like your eyes blur in and out of focus when you study the different areas.
This image above is one of my favourites. I like the blurred background and the sharpness of areas which are most important to the viewer. I also like the areas of reflective light on the forehead, hand and horn of the instrument. I would like to be able to capture some of these qualities in my own paintings.
Whilst looking at images of musicians playing, I found a few musicians resting/ waiting. I really like the concept of the musician waiting to go on and play and I think this would make a good theme for my own paintings. What I really like is the gaze on their faces. I find it intriguing, wondering what they are thinking about.
My theme– I have decided to look at musicians resting/ waiting backstage or on the side of t stage. I want to try and capture the intriguing gaze that they have whilst watching others play. I would also like to try and capture the reflective light from the stagelighting and the dark moody backgrounds.
Common factors– I want to show the musicians with their instruments. I want them to have a distant glaze. I want the backgrounds to be dark/ atmospheric.
I made a start with sketches of the musicians which I met and observed on nights out. Having backstage passes to many of these music events have helped when producing these paintings. I made sketches of musicians waiting to go on stage. I tried to capture their gazes.
I really liked this drawing, I think it shows good contrast between the dark background and the window which is being reflected behind the waiting musician. The light from the window is reflecting on the man making interesting highlights.
I did consider the drawing above for one of my final pieces but as you don’t really see the instrument he plays, only the bag he carries it in, I wasn’t sure it would fully fit in with my theme.
I also considered this image above for one of my final paintings. I decided against it as it shows much more of the body.
My first close up sketch of a saxophone player, is looking at his facial features and the gaze on his face, which portrays that he is deep in thought.
Here is my step by step painting process. For this painting I used oil paint because it gave me a longer working time and I was able to make changes in areas before the paint dried.
I have used the rule of thirds to place the figure on the canvas, placing the main interest in the middle third.
I did have some difficulties with the facial features especially the mouth and had to rework this area a few times. I find it difficult to paint teeth showing and they often make a painting look cartoon like, but I think I have managed to resolve this by only having a small amount showing. I used a brush to paint this and found that I unintentionally painted a smooth finish to my painting. I will try to add more texture to my next painting.
This is a drawing using white pencil on black paper. I like working this way as you can pick out the highlights rather than the shadows which is somtimes easier to do.
This very quick study using pen and fine liner hasn’t really worked very well as proportions are wrong, but it does show the colours.
Here is my step by step painting process. I have tried to add more texture to this painting, blocking out areas of colour and then working over the top with a palette knife and thicker impasto brushstrokes. In the background I added some blue to the black mix to make it glow slightly in areas to show some of the subtle light reflection from the stage lighting. I had to make some changes to the face.
I think this painting has worked well. I like the colours and I think that the shadows on the neck and the back of the arm has reall given the figure form. I think I have managed to capture her distant gaze, almost dream like stare. What I did notice was that seeing her on a dark background made the edges around her features appear crisp and defined. I tried to show the reflection from the violin under her chin and on her neck and I think it has worked well.
I can definitely see improvements in my portrait painting.
i started this painting by making some sketches in pencil and charcoal. The angle of the face and the added problem of glasses made this portrait quite challenging.
I think it is important to set yourself challenges, to give yourself the opportunity to improve. This is why I have chosen portraits / hands for my final pieces.
Below I was experimenting with some pens, roughly blocking out the colours and tones on his face. I chose a dark purple colour to pick out some of the shadows and I think it has worked quite well.
Here is my step by step painting process. I have used my palette knife more in this painting especially on the face. This has given the painting an impasto feel in areas. I have kept the background quite smooth and given it a gradual faded effect as I saw in one of my research pictures. It still has an area of darkness which still linked into my theme. The facial features were very challenging for me and I had to rework it a number of times. Adding the glasses does improve them I have noticed. I also found the hands and the way they were positioned a challenge to. It was difficult to stop them from looking like sausages.
Overall I think the painting has worked really well, and I have noticed my subtle improvements in portrait painting.
I have titled this group of paintings, “Waiting Gaze”
This is the order in which I would want the paintings viewed/ displayed.
I have chosen to display these paintings in this order, not to show the improvement of techniques, but based on the overall view of all three together. I didn’t want them placed so that they seemed to be looking at each other, because this would have taken it away from my theme of capturing the “waiting gaze”. In this order they are all staring out in different directions. If you look at the backgrounds you also get a feel of fading in and out of the darkness. Each musician is holding their instrument as though it was an extension of their own body.
Evaluation- I have chosen to produce a series of paintings based on a music theme. I enjoy painting and drawing the human figure and so felt that this would be the best option for my choice of painting theme. I was inspired to use a music theme after the painting which I produced in part three of the course, portrait and figure, exercise- creating mood and atmosphere. In this section I painted a guitarist on a dark background which was intended to give the impression and atmosphere of being on stage. This is one of my favourite painting of the whole course and so it made sense to continue with this theme.
For this set of paintings I tried to portray the atmosphere backstage whilst musicians awaited their turn to perform. I wanted to capture the gaze on the faces of the musicians whilst waiting their turn, wether it be nerves or the replaying of their part in their heads or wether they are just engrossed in the music.
There are common factors between the paintings such as, the musicians cradling their instruments, a head and shoulder composition, atmospheric backgrounds and the gaze on the musicians faces. I have also tried to catch the light reflection on the musicians from the stage lighting.
I did enjoy these paintings and felt that if I had more time I could have pushed this subject further, with different musicians and instruments. I could also have varied the paint application techniques, possibly exploring the possibility of abstraction or painting with a more impasto feel.
I do think that each portrait improved as I went on. I made subtle changes to the way I applied the paint, using a palette knife to give a little more texture to the painting.
Overall I am very pleased with my paintings and I think I have achieved what I set out to do, which was to capture the “waiting gaze” on the faces of young musicians.