I’ve decided to keep a digital art journal. In it I’m sharing my journey as an artist, specifically my journey to develop my skills as a portrait painter. Every Friday I’ll post a “check-in” with thoughts about how the week went, the project(s) I’m working on, and any blocks I faced (and resolved).
I’ve always kept a journal where I jotted down notes about life and art. Last year I joined Sophie Ploeg’s Art School and sporadically kept a journal in the school’s online group. It’s been helpful. It keeps me accountable and reminds me of my priorities. I’m a self-taught artist and my development as an artist, taking risks and putting it all out there is very important to me. This art journal serves as a place for me to keep track of my progress towards my goals.
To get started, I answered some questions below. However, if you’d like to just skip to this week’s “Work-in-progress” section, click here.
What do I struggle with most in my art?
What I’m after is a certain aesthetic, and I think I have found this in classical realism. But currently I’m struggling with my skill level. I have a clear idea in my head where I want this piece to end up, and it’s always beyond my current skill level. So you can imagine the frustration I experience with every piece!
But interestingly, it’s this frustration that keeps me coming back to my easel every day. I’m convinced that I will improve if I put in the time.
What would I like to work on first?
I would like to strengthen my drawing skills and develop my pastel painting skills.
How much time would I like to spend on my art?
Thirty hours per week. (I am very fortunate that my “day job” allows me to set my own work hours.)
What are my (SM)arty goals for 2020?
I love SMART goals – I find them very helpful in their concreteness. So here are my 2020 art goals in no particular order:
- Complete 12 small portraits (12×9 inches to 14×11 inches) by November 30, with one of them being a self-portrait, 2 being figure studies, and at least 6 of them being paintings.
- By December 31, complete basic atelier studies.
- By the end of 2020, I’m submitting my work to at least one competition TBD.
This past week I worked on a graphite portrait. The emotion in this piece is “yearning.” I’m still working out my process when I approach a subject. It’s a struggle for me to think in general, broad terms. Like a lot of people, I want to go right for the details first. And that’s a horrible place to start – well, for me at least.
So my biggest stumbling block this week was laying in the features after I got the big shapes and proportions established. I thought I had everything in the right place during my initial block in, but as you can see below I made the nose too long. That pushed the mouth down and crowded the chin area. The head proportions were correct (width to height), and the eye sockets were in the right place. It was definitely the nose. I made the adjustment and everything started to fall into place!
Next Friday is the deadline for a portrait competition I want to enter on Patreon (Stephen Bauman’s Patreon – he is fantastic!), so I am putting this drawing aside while I focus on my entry. But I’m committed to this piece. Now that I’m starting to work on the shadow and light shapes, I’m more excited by this piece!