Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about all the faces she makes while painting faces and other things.

Crosshatch

2009 . 12 . 14 - Comments / Commentaires (9)

J’ai aussi écrit une version française de cet article.

When I was in high school, I took an intaglio printmaking class at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and it would be an understatement to say that it was a formative experience.  Before I started the class, my mark-making was vague and undeveloped.  But, by the time I finished the semester, I was a crosshatching machine!  One of the ways to create a tonal area in intaglio printmaking is through overlaying lines, and I took to it avidly. 



Patern Kervinio

Gwenn Seemel
Papy
2001
acrylic on canvas
33 x 28 inches
(detail below)



Patern Kervinio

Crosshatching infiltrated my paintings immediately, and by the time I was halfway through college, I was painting like this, in a tight grid-like manner.



Heidi Grew

Gwenn Seemel
Heidi Grew
2003
acrylic on canvas
48 x 34 inches
(detail below)



Heidi Grew

Two years later, my mark-making had loosened up a bit.  I was no longer so set in the rigid horizontal/vertical crosshatching that had consumed me, and I had expanded my range of brushes to include something more than just the smallest rounds I could find.  This more playful way of laying down a brushstroke was important to my developing sense of what portraiture should be.



Mark Nelsen

Gwenn Seemel
Mark Nelsen (KPTV)
2004
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches
(detail below)



Mark Nelsen

I was interested in capturing not the exact proportions and perfect features of my subjects but instead their breath and movement.  I was looking for a way of laying down paint that could reflect a person’s dynamism and emphasize their lines—the way they carried themselves and the way they interacted with the world.  By 2004, I’d found some of that, but I was still lacking an important element in my mark-making toolbox: I wasn’t fully capitalizing on the way water can make acrylics flow.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

This is the beginning of a painting from 2009, a portrait of my cousin Sharon.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

Here my lines flow a lot more easily.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

I water down my full body paints quite a bit to help me achieve this effect.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

Though I also use wide swathes of color to add flesh and mass to a portrait…



process image of painting a miniature portrait

...I rely on line to keep the structure of the likenesses looking right.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

I alternate between using bigger brushes to lay down lots of paint…



process image of painting a miniature portrait

...and smaller brushes to reveal the movement that must be a part of a living face.



process image of painting a miniature portrait

The process of painting becomes a conversation between mass and movement…



process image of painting a miniature portrait

...between wide swathes of color and crosshatched lines.



painted portrait of Sharon Sabin

Gwenn Seemel
Sharon
2009
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches
(detail below)



painted portrait of Sharon Sabin


RELATED ARTICLES:
- The brush makes the painting.
- On making a mark
- When does repeating oneself become a style?


CATEGORIES: - TOP POSTS - Portraiture - Practice - Process images -



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(9) Comments / Commentaires: Crosshatch

-- Katie Moody -- 2009 . 12 . 16 --

“Sharon” is an absolutely gorgeous piece, Gwenn. Bravo!

And thanks for posting about the evolution of your style; I find such things fascinating.

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-- Gwenn -- 2009 . 12 . 16 --

Thanks muchly, Miss Moody!

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-- Bob Mrotek -- 2010 . 01 . 08 --

Sharon should be hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago. It is that unique!

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-- Madeline Bishop -- 2010 . 01 . 09 --

I loved the description of your process, Gwenn.  e
And, the colors are unexpected and lovely.
Thanks!

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-- Courtney Dicmas -- 2010 . 01 . 14 --

What a joy to see such fresh, innovative work!  Thank you for sharing this!

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-- five fingers -- 2010 . 09 . 22 --

Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part
people lack substance but
I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..
I’ll be checking in on a regularly now….
Keep up the good work!

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-- tiffany -- 2010 . 09 . 28 --

I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..
I’ll be checking in on a regularly now….

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-- Alicia -- 2013 . 08 . 15 --

I would love to see you post a time lapse video from blank canvas to finished portrait.  I am so intrigued by your style.

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-- Gwenn -- 2013 . 08 . 16 --

Thank you, Alicia!  The closest I’ve come to that is with this video where I show the first 2 days of painting on two portraits.  I work on lots of paintings at the same time, and I move them around as I do the work, so setting up and re-setting up a camera would interrupt my flow—and it would do so for several months because I take an average of 6 months to finish a painting.  One day when I have a huge studio and several cameras, then I’ll do it!

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