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Experiments with a Self-Portrait Series

In response to my teacher, Erin Raedeke, last week, I experimented with painting in a series for the first time. I painted my self-portrait while looking at the mirror for only one hour then I switched to the next painting. I was able to work on three paintings every morning.

Progress Shots from 3 Self-Portraits - Acrylic on Canvas Board, 8x10 in.

Instead of spending my entire morning working on the same painting, I could take regular breaks to change my water, clean my brushes, have a snack and come back to look at the painting with fresh eyes. Having the time limit motivated me to take more chances since I could put down a color and then walk away to the next painting. I experimented with sketching in a basic box to place the head within the composition. I painted a pink underpainting to see what it would feel like to not have a stark white background. And I experimented with working with the shadows around the eyes first, then painted outward from there.

I spent most of my time mixing up colors on my palette than painting on the canvas. I still have so much to learn about how to control the values and the temperatures of the colors I mix. I can feel myself rushing to put a mark on the canvas and then I feel disappointed when it doesn't work. And sometimes I can't figure out WHY it doesn't work. I need a better way to keep track of my decisions so I can go back and fix my mistakes the next time.

I want to continue working on three paintings at a time. And I want to focus on how I mix my colors and balance how and where I use color within the painting. Right now I keep trying to replicate what I think I see, but I know artists can choose which colors will dominate the painting and where they want to use color to draw attention in the painting. For example, I could create contrast with a light, high saturated color next to a dark, low saturated color... maybe a hot pink next to a brown? I wonder what are some other color combinations I could try.

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