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The Bearded Man

Title: The Bearded Man

Surfaces: sketches done on newsprint, smaller paintings on cold pressed watercolor paper, largest painting on hot pressed paper

Mediums: vine charcoal, gouache, ultra-fine sharpie

Music listened to: Disney classics (man, I am really on a Disney kick right now)

The Concept:

This small collection of paintings and sketches is the first of three installments in my final series for Intermediate Painting. In my series I will be exploring portraiture, with an emphasis on painting from life. I’m drawn to creating portraits because I’ve always felt the urge to improve on my representation of the human form, especially the face. I’ve recently been drawing from life everyday in an effort to work towards my goal of becoming an illustrator and story artist. While the work I do in illustration tends to be more cartoonish, I feel like in order to manipulate real forms, I have to know the forms, thus the emphasis on creating art directly from art.

For this first installment of paintings I only worked in gouache so that I could broaden my medium horizons. While I never felt that I could achieve the results I wanted in watercolor, gouache feels very different to me and I enjoy its opacity and feel. I wanted to keep the style loose and sketchy, and knew from the beginning that I wanted to arrange them in this serendipitous, cloud-like arrangement to reflect the style.

Lastly, I took a lot of inspiration from portrait artist Elizabeth Peyton, and her ability to capture emotion through brushstrokes that lie somewhere in between realism and illustration.

The Process:

The model for this series was my childhood friend, Jake. It ended up being really fun to paint his beard, because as you can see, it is no minor beard. Although ideally I could have done all of the sketches and paintings from life, only three of the paintings and one of the sketches was done so, and the rest were from photo references. I didn’t get too caught up in stress over this though, because reality isn’t perfect! Jake goes to a different college, so he unfortunately could not pose for consecutive paintings on a whim.

I found that keeping my brushstrokes loose to be quite easy, and allowed for a lot of experimentation. Each portrait looks a bit differently due to the looseness, but I’m happy with the results as they all seem to capture an aspect of Jake. I spent anywhere from 30-60 minutes on each portrait, forcing myself to stop before the paintings became overworked and static.

If I had to choose a favorite out of the portraits, I would probably choose what I am lovingly referring to as The Crown Jewel, which is the largest painting, because it has the strongest composition and contrast, and while it looks exactly like Jake, it doesn’t lose its sense of emotion and playfulness. However I am also very fond of the small painting with the pinkish-red background because it was a challenge to paint the full body pose, and also because he is holding a cube of cheese, which amuses me.

I am overall happy with the results, and think this would be a fun project to complete again, with another model. Next time I would try to capture even more emotions and complete even more paintings.

Tune in next time for the second installment of my Intermediate Painting series, where I will go back to working in oil! (Probably).

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