SELF PORTRAIT: Painting the Soul of the Artists

The portrait of an artist provides us with an opportunity to have a virtual meeting with the artist. If the portrait is painted by the artist himself or herself, meaning it is a self-portrait, it generates a special type of curiosity in the viewers’ eyes. Once we look at a portrait of an artist, we feel thrilled knowing that we are before the stalwart painters like 

Leonardo da Vinci or Pablo Picasso. We can observe how they dressed and how they lived, and from that, we can arrive at some conclusions regarding how they were different from the others living around them. We can have a guess about their lifestyle and the bank balances, too. Here are some self-portraits.

Here the master artist Van Gogh uses his well-established technique of presenting the strain of the emotion. And for that the painter had used short strokes of brushes, depicting the tension the artist was feeling inside of him and then releasing the same through the skill of the brush.

In this self-portrait, Vincent Van Gogh has put the focal point of the painting on his beard. Strangely enough, he had used red for the beard, creating the full-blown tension in the middle of the frame. Thereafter the tones of the colours subdue for tense to somewhat released and finally, the tension looks ending in the corners of the frame where the colours are in their palest hue.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919) was a French painter, leading the impressionist movement. The painters paint with colours, while Renoir used 'emotions' as one of his colours; his speaking paintings are the witness of this fact.  

Like other Impressionists, Renoir also used unusual tonal colours to stir up moods and impressions. Under influence of Impressionism, the recreation of objective reality was nearly discouraged and was almost replaced by the practice of developing a subjective response to a piece of work to actual experience.  

Fine Arts generally, found this theory of impressionism more suitable for its somewhat blur and sometimes vague objects. The impressionist painters told many things by reflecting light and incomplete forms, crafted through a quick range of short strokes of pure and bright colours they kept in their palates

PORTRAIT PAINTING: From Pencil Drawing to Canvas: A preparatory pencil drawing is a must before proceeding to a portrait. 

Portrait of Jakob Meyer zum Hasen. Silverpoint, red chalk, and traces of black pencil on white-coated paper, c. 28.1 × 19 cm, Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel.

If you are an established artist you know it very well, and if you are an artist starting your adventure in the field of art, you need to know that a preparatory pencil drawing is a must for making a portrait, either in watercolour or oil. 

Beginners can get help by seeing the works of master artists. The drawing given here is the example of the preparatory drawing by the master portrait painter Holbein d. j. Hans. Here the artist had, before proceeding to canvass, done the drawing in red chalk and black pencil.

Portrait painting is a subtle communication of a set of expressions on the face of a model or the person sitting for his or her portrait. While doing it, artists mostly require the person in front of the canvas. Though some painters prefer working on the basis of photographic references, too, especially in the case when the model is a child.

Most of the portrait painters use both of the techniques, but doing a larger part of the painting on the basis of photos. If the person to be portrayed sits before a painter, the final work represents liveliness and here and now effect. The painting below is the final work done on the preparatory drawing done as above.  

The artist should have the freedom to have required alteration so as to make the portrait looking natural and more speaking. The portrait was done by Holbein d. j. Hans is an example of the necessity of doing some alterations. 

The painting given here is the final work done on the preparatory drawing done as above. The artist should have the freedom to have required alteration so as to make the portrait looking natural and more speaking. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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