This is another one of my series of portraits on the Face of Homelessness. I worked with this guy for close to 3 years while working for the homeless and we were able to share different passions. He liked art, bowling and most of all pool. He was very competitive and so was I, he'd been on the streets for a long while before he was discovered and he also had a wonderful dog. I have added him to this series because of his cheeky smile, not all in this series are smiling but he was a real character and this was how he looked in his proper element!
The Face of Homelessness, Clapham Common, 12" x 16", oil on board, 2012
This is a sketch I did of him in 2008. His features are prominent but very hard to depict. But in all his face is a dream for a portrait painter! This was done with sanguine and sepia dust and the lines and details were added with oil base pencils-Black and Sanguine.
STAGE 1-I used a canvas board that had been prepared for a self portrait, the colours have nothing to do with this piece. I just happened to want to use it. These colours were acrylic washes and if you look carefully I had used a blue coloured pencil to square it up, this was not for the portrait of Alan but I decided not to remove it. I just went ahead and sketched with a willow charcoal., trying my best to approximate where I would like his head to be positioned on the surface. The ability to sketch fluently and confidently with lines that depict structure and form is very important at this stage.
STAGE 2- Here I get a bit more specific with my lines and once I am a bit more confident, I darken the lines. I don't really want a detailed drawing but just a kind of map to follow on, because I'll be putting rich, thick paint on soon.
STAGE 3- This is where I introduce colour. It's just like I explained in the post before this one. I am working in the method called, "INSIDE-OUT"- where I start from one spot, this time it's the forehead and I move outwards to other parts of the face. This method as mentioned before keeps one at full anticipation on what is to come. It's always nice to see the face unfold.
STAGE 4-I move to the left side of the face which had a lot of complications and the ear but I managed to just keep going, painting shape by shape and putting down the colour just as close as I could mix. Sometimes the initial sketch is wrong, so I basically forget about it at times and just sketch with colour as I go along.
STAGE 5-Gradually I get round to the main features and just keep adding piles of paint with expressive brushstrokes to follow the form and structure of the face.
STAGE 6- I'm not impressed with the shape of his head, as I feel I have got something major wrong at this point, so I just keep correcting the drawing with colour. This is an important process in painting, as nothing stays right until it feels right. So I keep cutting backwards and forwards on the surface, adjusting and re-adjusting until I am fully satisfied.
STAGE 7- After I had corrected the drawing endlessly at the other stage, I now go over the whole piece with a bit of detail here and there, trying my best not to overwork it but to keep it fresh.
THE COMPLETED PAINTING WITH THE PALETTE- The palette shows the 4 colours I 'm working with. It's a limited palette of Black, White, Red and Yellow-popularly known as the Zorn palette.
SPECIAL QUOTE "Many of us tense up when rendering another person's face. Perhaps you've experienced this; I do, even though I've drawn and painted countless faces......"-Charles Reid, Painting by Design