Portrait painting from life with Alan McGowan March 2020

This was the first time I have worked from life for some time.  I am still in a place where I am experimenting with materials and getting confidence with the oil painting, so also thinking about the drawing and colour in a real life model is quite a stretch for me.  I found that I could sustain my current knowledge/level of expertise for about two days with two different male models, who I already knew, but by the third day I had run out of interpretative energy and the painting went flat.  I did not know the  models for the third and fourth day and also found the modelling of the face on these young female sitters more difficult than in the older male models of first two days. It was less about them as characters and more about their surface features for me.

I wanted to revisit my portrait painting, which I have worked with on and off for the past few years, and definitely felt less overwhelmed by preexisting ideas and the challenge of the live model this time.  I really appreciated these few days of focus on painting, supported by Alan’s expertise and ideas and by a pleasant and dedicated group of fellow painters.  Alan gave us lots of information about using paint and building a painting, and I appreciated his reference to other interesting painters such as Kanevsky and Muira (see below).  At one time these artists seemed a million miles away, now I have a bit more skill with paint, at least enough to try and make some sketches and copies to try and absorb their approach.  And from that to work out my own approach.