I am a beginner and started about 4 months ago by downloading a number of books and trying to teach myself to draw and paint. I have no prior knowledge of art. I started with graphite, then ink, pastels, acrylic, watercolor and finally oils. Nothing compares to oil.
I was wondering if I could ask a favor and have you review some of my work in oil.
My problem is I can’t tell what is good and what is not (no aesthetic sense!) also I cant seem to capture the likeness of my subject. Its also really difficult for me to place everything in its proper perspective (angle, dimensions etc). I also don’t know anyone who can critique my work so feedback from a highly talented artist like yourself would really help. I use a grid to draw the initial figure and then work with layers. I like to add gold and silver foil. These are my first ever portraits. ( I’ll send these to her soon, somehow I don’t think she’ll like them very much :,-(. )
Once again thank you for the critique.
Kind regards Raza
Good for you to start painting with oils. As you’ve probably found, it’s lots of fun even if it isn’t easy to achieve the results you would like.
Let me try to help you by commenting on one of the examples you sent. You’ve painted a portrait based on a photograph. You’ve succeeded in recreating the skin tones from the photo and you’ve used a grid system to help you copy the shapes of the features. You have done a careful job, and your model will probably recognize herself when she sees your painting.
I feel that you have the potential to do more sophisticated work. If you are dissatisfied with your efforts so far, I would advise you to do three things:
First, I would recommend that you practice painting live people whenever possible. Copying a photograph will not train your eye properly – it will encourage you to see the human face as a pattern of flat shapes to be outlined and filled in instead of as subtle three dimensional forms. You need to be able to look at your subject from all angles and memorize the anatomy of the head so that you can indicate modeling using brush strokes, value gradations, and color modulations. For example, you can learn to make the far side of the face in your painting seem to be turning away as the cheek and chin curve around the head and out of sight. As it is, the cheek and chin seem a bit cut-out against the hair. Look how William-Adolphe Bouguereau manages a similar situation by using half tones, cooler color, and softened edges to imply a turning plane on the face in this portrait.
Second, you will be happier if you use a single directional light on your subject. It’s no accident that the advent of electric lights has coincided with a deterioration of artistic skills. Did you ever try the art exercise where you draw a simple sphere with light falling on it? Usually you have the high-light, half-tones, shadow, reflected light, and the cast shadow.
Now imagine trying to do that exercise with two, three, or more different light sources. I’ve been in art classes where the instructor didn’t seem to recognize that painting a model illuminated by several light bulbs at different angles makes as little sense. Painting is all about creating an illusion and its success depends on convincing the human eye, which is used to recognizing certain conventions. If you can, set your model up near a high north window. So long as you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun will never interfere with your neutral light from the “back” of the sky.
Third, you have chosen a beautiful model, but modern cosmetics can interfere with your ability to see what you’re looking at. I would suggest that you practice painting eyelids and lips without kohl and lipstick. What you want is to render the forms, not their color. For an example of what I mean, look at great marble sculpture, like perhaps one of Bernini’s portrait heads. In this example, you can see that there’s a mastery of the three-dimensional shapes that it’s worth trying to achieve in oil.
As always, spend plenty of time looking at the way the great masters solved some of the same issues we all deal with. Thank you for your question!