It’s been almost two years since I packed up all my oil paints, brushes, etc. and stored everything in a storage locker in the mountains of northern California. Did think to save out my plein air painting kit – stuffed into an old backpack that my son Jon used in 9th grade. Left the backpack with my father, and a kind friend brought it to me here in Israel last week. WHAT excitement!!! The smell of oil paint as I reached in to bring out the cigar box sized pochade painting box, and my fingers meeting up with sticky wet paint! Only one casualty of ultramarine blue squished between a suitcase rib and the bottom of the wooden box…. Small price to pay for the entire bag full of paints, linseed oils, brushes, palette, old apron, bungee cords, and other painting-in-the-wilds accoutrement!
This first photo shows most of the stuff spread out on my desk. Sketch book for planning composition, huge bundle of brushes which were cleaned and packed on 27 Dec. 2010. Extra white and cadmium yellow [the large tubes], tube of Kiss-Off [a great quickie paint remover!], small painting panels, various view finders, mini bungee cords, clear bag filled with 37 ml. size oil paints [mostly Gamblin], my apron from Daniel Smith, colour wheels, pouch for tripod, linseed and stand oils at the back. The pochade box is on the right edge of pic.
Was trying to look into the mirror exactly as I did to do the portrait. However, the light had changed dramatically. The light coming from the left is from a lamp in the dining room, and is much brighter than the actual light that I painted by.
After painting fast to get the light right, noticed that my facial proportions are only just barely there because of habit of doing self-portaits demonstrations for all my workshops and classes! At this point had to stop because even after doing a wipe-out there was still too much paint on the board to do detail work – eyes etc. Bad glare on the photo as the sun had gone down as well……. However, doing a self-portrait is a great way to try out new paints, or try out a new technique. All it takes is a mirror; the model is free!
Above is the first self-portrait I attempted in oils. Done while at University of Calif. at Santa Cruz, 1993, this was done on the deck outside my student apartment, painted on the back of a piece of masonite board while observing myself reflected in a sliding glass door! Lack of ability to worry about much detail created a great impressionistic touch.
This self-portrait in oils was done in my Sonora Studio in June 2007, and was the first one attempted with glasses! I’ve worn glasses since I was 14 years old, but had never put them into a self-portrait! This one was done with more precision and hard edges.
These two photos show how one can have fun and experiment with colours and brush techniques by doing different sittings with yourself as the model. In the top portrait Van Gogh has used a more traditional style with dark background allowing the realistic pale complexion and red hair to stand out.
In this portrait Van Gogh has replicated his face but also played with amping up the colour and swirly brushwork throughout the background emulating the movement of hair and beard. Sorry that these images are so small. One of my favourite books is one of the “Faces of Van Gogh”, a wonderful compilation of Van Gogh’s many self-portraits made throughout his life.
A photo montage of still life painting, still life on table, self-portrait, and artist in the mirror.
Just for fun – here’s a picture taken of part of the bookcase-storage unit in my old studio, showing four small portraits in a row painted of my daughter, the newspaper article about it in the upper right shelf; a small square portrait done on wood using all cosmetics as paints; a landscape of Silver Lake in the High Sierras at the upper left; various art show invitation cards; reflections of other paintings in the mirror; and a portrait in black ink done of me by my studio partner Sherie Drake, in the foreground.
Hope this has been inspirational!! Happy painting!