Monthly Archives: March 2015

Artist Review: Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith (who also goes by the online handle Mucksnipe) is another artist who I have found inspirational to this project. Though not as bold and direct as Veronique Meignaud, to create dynamic portraiture. His subjects are often very cool, with only a couple of warm colours upon them, and he prefers to use pastel colours compared to the vibrancy seen in Meignaud’s work.

What really stands out to me though is his brush work. He uses strong strokes and thick paint to give his portraits a tantalizing texture. This texture is what holds the attraction of these portraits I believe. For me certainly, it makes me want to reach out and touch with canvas. Whilst the colours give the subject their character, the brushwork gives the painting itself life.

Whilst his colours might be too pastel and messy for my liking, I will be using Aaron Smith’s work as inspiration towards my texture techniques and brushwork in future.


Artist Review: Veronique Meignaud

Veronque Meignaud

Veronique Meignaud was one of the artists that sparked this project into being and really motivated me to improve myself. Introduced to her work through her portrait series in Dishonored. She uses as tempest of lines and shapes to fill her pieces with a storm of energy. However I think what really pours life and personality into the paintings is her use of colour.

Pouring a spectrum of both warm and cool colours into paintings, she creates a clash of emotion that is somehow also balanced out. These colours and shapes reflect and build upon the personality of the subject and give a viewers a profound idea of what they might be like. This is especially prevalent in her work for Dishonored, and I intend to preform some more precise studies relating her portrait techniques to the subject character.

I admit I struggle to properly describe Veronique Meignaud’s work an its effect on me with words. But it has changed my view on colour and composition and I will be keeping her work close at hand for visual inspiration.

Photostudy 8

Tone 12

Photostudy number 8 is complete and oh boy am I a happy man! I was much more relaxed with this piece and gave myself more freedom and the result can be clearly seen. The piece is full of life and character.

I decided to be much more artistic and painterly with this piece, and so used the photo-reference as a general guide rather than a target goal. I was much looser with my brush work and you can see some nice strokes throughout the piece which construct the subject just as well as any soft airbrush would. This is especially present in the hair, where I took the general gist and look of it and painted based on that, rather than ardently copy each exact strand of hair.

I also had some fun with the colours in this piece. This is especially noticeable in the purple tones found throughout the face. These purples came about because they were present in the deeper shadows of the reference photo, and so I pulled them out into some of the other tones as well whilst painting. I then added some more shading and highlights using purple ‘glazes’ (layers set to Darken, Lighten, and Multiply) to really unify the tones across the face and hair. I also made the jumper more red-purple than the red-orange it originally was.

To counteract the warmth these purples added to the the image I made the background out of cool greens and blues. I then tied these to the colour of the Iris and this really helps make the eye pop out and draw the eye. It is filled with life from the over-saturation. These cool colours interact greatly with the warmth of the face and balance out the image.

There are still some issues with the piece. Something is up with the nose, although I cant for the life of me figure out what. I think it might be the harder shadows around the nostrils but I’m not sure. Also the lips are a bit too neat and clean cut compared to the rest of the image and stand out a bit. These areas also lack some of the purple tones found across the image and favor the red-orange tones which  might be the issue.

Regardless I think the image is still my best yet and if I can continue on this path I should be in good stead for some great submissions.

As always, a WiP can be found on my Behance page. I also create a progress gif, although the quality is a bit low in places.


Photostudy 7

Tom 7

I’m a bit late in posting this but another photostudy is complete! Although I am less than happy with this one. I dont know what happened but I just could not get any life into this one. There are some anatomy issues (the eyes are slightly disproportional for one thing), but I think its the colours and brushwork that kill the image.

I was too focused on trying to copy the photo-reference that I did not stand back and think about what I was trying to paint. Because the photo was taken in poor lighting the skin tones were quite ugly tobacco-ochre tones, and between trying to copy the image and trying to make the subject look healthy everything just got really muddy and confused.

There brushstrokes as well let the piece down in that there aren’t any. They all just combine into irregular blocks of tone and shade. As a result the face just looks flat and lifeless.

So where do I go from here? Well while I will still be using photo-references I don’t think I will focus on mimicking them to such a fervent degree. Rather I will use them as a base and develop my style and artistic freedom on top of them. It’s a bit of a gamble, it could go very bad, but it will hopefully pay off and grant me some great portraits.

A WiP can be found here.