Category Archives: Part 3: Portrait and figures

Reflecting on Part 3 as a whole

What an exciting rollercoaster this section has taken me on. It has pushed me to new levels and brought so much out of me creatively. I have discovered so much about the direction that my work is going towards and how to really feel my work. I have taken so much from this journey so far and can only imagine what I will do in the future. Exciting!

I have to admit that the simplicity of painting styles is where my strengths are. The detail of exactly what I am seeing isn’t where my passions lie. Instead expressing what I am feeling is more important to me. Modern impressionism has blown me away with beauty and I am enjoying exploring and experimenting with it through my own work. I am appreciating colour greatly and how to use it to my advantage. Experiment with the effect that colours have with each other and how we perceive it is leading to endless experimentation.

Overall a fantastic part to this course and I am so excited to continue.


Reflecting on part 3 before moving on to Assignment 3:

This section has taken me on a real journey. I am really surprised by how challenging it was in places that I wasn’t expecting. I have always enjoyed drawing and investigating the human figure through my work, however using acrylic to do so has taught me a lot. It has given me the opportunity to really experiment with my paints and colours and has taugt me so much of how I really want to express what I am seeing. Modern impressionism is becoming more and more important to my personal voice and I am falling madly in love with modern impressionist artists especially those that paint portraits. Oil is something I am exploring, as well as water colour. I am so surprised by this but I am enjoying becoming familiar with painting mediums and continue to enjoy growing throughout this process.

IMG_20150503_175659 (Watercolour and ink: Something that I experimenting a lot with at the moment.)

Overall my favourite pieces are my head and shoulders painting, as well as my telling the story piece. Regarding my portrait, I am definitely taking this further for my assignment piece. Trying to achieve what I want to with paint has been challenging however I continue to grow day by day.


Exercise 2: Telling a story

During working on this piece it went on a real journey. I automatically wanted to take it through the subject of dance. I am a big fan of contemporary dance and from a single position frozen in time I am taken on such a journey. I wanted to try and undertake this through a piece of work. I had found quite dramatic silhouettes on top of dramatic passionate colours. What I wanted to achieve wasn’t fully translated through this, so I went back to an earlier sketch of a magazine cut out and took it further in quite an abstract way with soft pastels. I am really pleased with the results of the second piece. Although it seems quite basic, for me it was more emotional and told the story that I wanted it to too.

Examples of my preliminary sketches and studies:

part 3 proj 3 ex 2 002 part 3 proj 3 ex 2 001

DSC_0149 Soft pastels on paper A4 (My final piece)


Above is my original silhouette acrylic painting that I really didn’t like, however learnt a lot from doing. When I have seen red and blue in other dance paintings, the colours were drastic and emotion packed. I don’t feel that this was successfully achieved in this case. The sillhoette was something that I felt expressed what I wanted which is why I took it further with my soft pastel piece. However I did choose a different position from an earlier sketch.

I could of took this piece down many routes and I am really surprised with the direction that I ended up going in and enjoying the results of. I am excited by how much more emotion I am expressing through what I am creating.

I have learnt just how important experimenting is especially through this exercise. Also in order to achieve what I want to say, realism isn’t always key.

Exercise 1: A figure in an interior

I surprised myself with the direction that I decided to go with. I originally planned to have my subject position on a seat or sofa. However after experimenting with sketches I decided to try something a little different. I positioned the subject in the kitchen in an attempt to include a deeper linear perspective.

After working on initial sketches, I really enjoyed using quite basic shapes for the human figure. Working then in acrylic I wasn’t liking the results. I then progressed to complete another piece using soft pastels and felt more comfortable using this medium. Overall this wasn’t my favourite piece however, I learnt a lot from undertaking it.

part 3 proj 3 ex 1 001part 3 proj 3 ex 1 002

I experimented with positioning, clothes and props until I was happy. The mood shifted from an original sadness to quite a happy daydreaming expression. This made me realise how subtle changes can impact a piece entirely.

One technical difficulty that I have come across is when I encounter a setting that isn’t aesthetically pleasing when translated through a painting in terms of the colours. Therefore having to adjust them to my specification.

My original painting (A4 acrylic on paper):


My second attempt using soft pastels, again on A4:


I included quite an extended arm and really like the results. I wasn’t aiming to be overly realistic with these pieces, I wanted to experiment with ways of exploring the human figures shapes and how to manipulate them.

Another piece from my sketchbook that I feel fits the criteria for this piece was as follows:


Even though the bright colours are strong, I feel that they complement each other and bring everything together. The linear perspective is quite natural and contributes to what is happening in order to tell the story of the piece. Blocking out the negative parts with colour worked well to bring depth.

I went back to this again using watercolour with an original sketch:


Exercise 4: Conveying Character

For this piece I chose to convey a image of happiness and warmth.  Simply putting a simile onto a subjects face was not enough for me to achieve what I wanted to convey. I built up the painting with warm colours such as oranges, reds and yellows, allowing the paint itself to be advantage.

part 3 proj 2 ex4 001

I kept the palette quite restricted and warm in tone.

DSC_0166 A2 Acrylic on paper.

I used yellows and reds to change the tones in the face and express emotion too.

I am happy that I am experimenting and feeling my work to a greater experiment. I am really enjoying growing through this process. Also researching other portraits I enjoyed the use of quite earthy tones in the background. This helped me to achieve the character that I was trying to achieve through this piece.

Expressing the emotion of the subject through paint is something that I want to convey through my personal work to a higher level. This has given me the opportunity to research and explore ways of doing this especially through colour.

Some other drawings that I have been attempting to convey character and considered using for this piece:



Exercise 3: Creating mood and atmosphere

I intended to express sadness and loss. Although my initial sketches were quite realistic, the more I explored what I wanted to achieve, the more I experimented with colour and subtle changes. I was less worried about detail and more about the emotional expression of what I was doing. This resulting in quite a monochrome piece using the full scale of black to white. I have been appreciating splashes of colour in order to convey emotion, therefore I chose to include strong red and blue within the piece.  The red I was less sure of but I felt it brought a sense of anger and fear to it too, therefore included it.

part 3 proj 2 ex 3 002 part 3 proj 2 ex 3 001

Closed eyes were more expressive of what I wanted to achieve.


I felt a real need to emphasise a sense of burden, expressed by a weight in to the hand. I allowed the blue to flow through the darkness of the paint.

I was inspired by the positioning of a previous sketch that I had worked on of a homeless man. Everything that he expressed I wanted to try and convey through this piece too.


Exercise 2: Head and shoulder portrait.

I often enjoy watching my children sleep, they look so peaceful. Quite spontaneously I began to sketch my little boy in our rocking chair and felt that it would suit the criteria for this piece. After I finished I asked him and he say “that’s me!” He was really positive about it.

After preparing the surface, I sketched out the basics and worked from the background forward.

I have been finding that many of the pieces of art that I enjoy layers the paint, working the changes layer by layer. This is something that I am exploring a lot as I progress.

I favoured the positioning of the figure, including him being off centre creating a relaxed emotional expression.

part 3 proj 2 ex 2 001 part 3 proj 2 ex 2 002

I changed the positioning and the focus from my original sketch in order to convey what I was trying to achieve.


  • I used a variety of blues for this piece as I feel that it expressed the calm peaceful emotions of what I was experiencing.
  • Background texture is something that I am experimenting with greatly at the moment. I really like the results of using brushes with regards to working on the human figure, however I am trying to find something personally fitting to my needs when it comes to the surrounding areas.
  • I didn’t want to use any tones that were too overpowering and feel that the range that I used suited what I wanted to achieve.