Yesterday I gallery-sat for the Face Forward show at the West Hartford Art League. The Face Forward Show is a group show of about sixteen different artists all doing self-portraits. Gallery sitting is when someone sits there to open the gallery, answer questions, and sell art if the art is for sale. Most of the time when I gallery sit, I bring a book or some handiwork, because there's not a lot of action. This time, a few people came in.
One lady walked around and stopped at my portrait. She asked me questions and I answered as if I wasn't the artist. I felt like if I said, "Oh, that's mine." Then she'd feel obligated to pay me a compliment. I'd much rather discuss a work without anyone feeling awkward. I'd rather have the honest feedback. But as it so happened, she liked the work without knowing it was mine and she asked a lot of questions about how it was made. Having made it, I had the answers.
First, I sketched my face out on a white canvas. (The show required us to work on 24" X 24" canvases.) Then I broke down the shapes in my face, one by one. I started with the nose. I cut squares from watercolor paper that I had painted in my skin tones and laid those paper "tiles" out on the nose. I think there were 16 pieces. Then I moved them off to the side and painted the nose - and only the nose - black. When the paint was dry, I glued the "tiles" back on top, keeping track of their placement.
Then I moved on to the eyes. Same process. Cut the paper into "tiles" and lay them out. Move them to the side. Paint only the eye black. Glue the "tiles" down. Move to the next eye. Then I did the mouth. Then I anchored down the circles for the cheeks. Once I had the key features down, I could paint the rest of the face and glue those tiles down.
You'll notice that there are different colors in the skin tone and different shapes. All of that helps to define the shading and surface of the face.
Then I added the hair. Then the neck. I left the shirt blank because I had a vision for the background, but not for the shirt. I figured I'd get the background flowers in and then see what colors worked best for the shirt. (I ended up using a piece of wallpaper.)
And so forth and so on, bit by bit. I defined a shape on the canvas, cut the paper tiles, moved the tiles aside, painted the section black, and glued the tiles back in place. It was slow work, but not overly complicated. When it was all done, I coated it in High Gloss Mod Podge and sealed the sucker up.
Here I am at the Face Forward opening with my piece.
If you're in town, stop by the Saltbox Gallery at the West Hartford Art League. It really is a cool show. Every artist did a different style, a different medium. We all had an open choice as to how we wanted to portray ourselves and it's pretty interesting to see what everyone chose. For me, I couldn't imagine doing a 24" X 24" realistic self-portrait. No one's going to buy it and I don't want to stare at a realistic depiction of myself all day long. But with this technique, I can enjoy it without it really feeling like I'm basking in the glory of me, yanno. I like it and I like the way it turned out, but the medium is what holds me, not the subject matter. So I'll be happy to find a place for it in my home.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
I hope you all have a great week!