Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I think I'm 2, 16" x 16" Sanguine & sepia dust/coloured pencils on watercolour paper, 2009



Recently I did a post to let you know how I was doing with some portrait commissions and the battle I have been facing to complete them.

Well to celebrate, I have completed one out of the four! Phewwwwww it didn't come easy- It came after 6 attempts! Now, even though I haven't used the same pictures for all the attempts, they are the same boy! Now that can almost be hard to believe!

The lessons I have learnt are numerous but I just give glory to God first, for giving me the persistence and endurance during the roughest of times I ever experienced to produce a single portrait.

Lessons learnt.
1. Portrait commissions cannot be rushed, they take patience and time and HARD WORK! Give yourself sufficient time!

2. If working form photos make sure you take hundreds of photos of the same subject under different lighting to bring out the personality of the subject. Out of a hundred one will click!

3. When scaling it is good to use horizontal and vertical lines but also diagonal!

4. Master the medium you plan to use by practicing different effects possible on test paper or any ground similar to the one you are working on.

5. Nothing should be taken for granted, develop an "unmerciful" eye for tone, temperature, detail, lighting, texture, movement...that list could go on and on.

6. Sometimes while working on portraits the goal is resemblance or what some people call likeness- this can get one into a fix while working on portraits. When I say "fix" I mean, you let that be your one drive alone but it is not. So my solution is take a couple of breaks and distance yourself from the piece at intervals, also employing the use of a mirror to look at the portrait in reverse to see any alignment mistakes.

7. Finally, if others can do it, you can, just go back to your beloved books and tutors for help. Or even a trusty second eye. My wife comes in handy here, because she is neutral she'll offer down to earth criticism.



The final piece was achieved by first ghosting the dust on the watercolour paper and then details and tones were added using a variety of brown, red and black coloured pencils.

Here are 6 failed attempts! Don't laugh!







20 comments:

Candace X. Moore said...

Adebanji, What a beautiful portrait. The pose in the final portrait is so active and engaging, and conveys an interesting narrative about this little person. Just adding that little hand and hint of a smile really made this pose stand out from the others. Also, very nice technical handling of the medium. The facial features are delicate with nice contrast, and that big swatch of background color really makes the subject pop. I’m jealous…in a good way.

Also thanks for posting all your attempts and lessons learned. Very high quality content.

adebanji said...

Thanks Candace! Your analysis here is spot on! Once his parents replied me with, "No Comments, it is looking good" You can imagine how excited I felt. But is wasn't only because of the likeness but all the things you have mentioned here too!

L.Holm said...

Excellent portrait, and so generous of you to show your previous attempts! I've been so worried that I don't seem to paint or draw quickly enough. It's good advice to remember that persistence and taking time are necessary ingredients. Your final portrait is dynamic, fresh and alive.

adebanji said...

Thanks L.Holm!

Carolina said...

Hi Adebanji,
The final portrait is really graceful and a joy to look at, congratulations.
Your first attempts were a lot better than what I can do in portraits, so, definitely not laughing here!

adebanji said...

Thanks Carolina!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

It was worth all the effort. The portrait is charming and natural. Good tips about commissioned portraits. Learning is painful, isn't it? Thanks for sharing the good and the bad. You're a brave man!

adebanji said...

Thanks Elizabeth!

Larry said...

Persistence pays off. Thanks for showing all the previous versions.
I like Truman Capote's line " Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."

dominique eichi said...

OH , your final piece glows. I absolutely love this piece because it implies so much. you can see his radiant beauty, and wonderful life in his eyes. He is 2 but there's a tinge of uncertainty in him. I love the angle made by the arm and again with the fingers in the other direction. Your progression is wonderful to see, it give us all hope, not that they are bad pieces but there is a difference between them and the final piece. Is the top one the first and so on ? Bravo for perseverance on a job very well done.

adebanji said...

Thanks Larry! I'll remember that quote!

Thanks Dominique! Solid anaylsis! The first one is the 6th attempt and so on......

Isabel said...

great portrait, Loved all the others but in your last one is like you capture a moment of this lively boy. I read all your advice about working on portraits and I'll keep them in mind. Loved reading all comments as well. thanks for sharing your work and your tips as I feel like I always learn something. Have a good Easter

adebanji said...

Thanks Isabel and I hope you have a good Easter too!

Edward Burton said...

Fantastic portrait, Adebanji!

adebanji said...

Thanks Edward!

Sheila said...

Thank you for sharing your tips. It's encouraging to know even master artists struggle (a little) at times.

jeannette stgermain said...

The result after 6 tries is stunning! Have to admit, that I am not that patient with portraits (that's why I don't do portraits LOL). But I have an angel painting that I attempted 5 times before I was satisfied with it (for that i did have the drive:) )

adebanji said...

Thanks Sheila! I think we are more useful to each other when we've been through the worst times and have come on top and can share the ups and downs!

Thanks Jeannette!I can understand what you mean Jeannette! 5 times, does show motivation!

Chad Wallace said...

These drawings are terrific. Really like the softness.

adebanji said...

Thanks Chad!