Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.


2008 . 07 . 14 - Comments / Commentaires (1)

One of the most valuable lessons from my years of formal education came my last year in school during the studio visits from my thesis advisor, the illustrious Hess. Each time he arrived at the studio, he would carefully examine each of my portraits in silence. Finally he would turn to me and pronounce them “done!”

They usually weren’t finished (until, of course, the day that they were and he was right!), but his declaration forced me to think about how I know when I am done with a painting. Because of Hess, I can usually recognize the moment.

A painting is completed when I don’t feel any anxiety at the prospect of showing it to someone else, only excitement. 

Becca, phase 1

A first wash of color. I knew that I wanted the completed painting to have a lot of minty green in it, so I chose a deep warm red—the minty green’s complement—as the undercoat.

Becca, phase 2

Blocking in highlights.

Becca, phase 3

Starting to find the fleshiness.

Becca, phase 4

More fleshiness. I remember being pretty happy with the painting at this point. I knew I wasn’t done, but I couldn’t touch it for a week or so because I liked something about this stage too much.

Becca, phase 5

Smoothing over some areas with wide swathes of color, then picking out details with smaller brushes again.

Becca, phase 6

Bored with the pastely quality of the painting, I introduced pure cadmium yellow.

Becca, phase 7

The subject needed to be both boxed-in and un-boxed-in since she is so good at painting herself out of corners.

Becca, phase 8

Ready to rediscover the minty green.

Becca, phase 9

I didn’t want to lose the red of the undercoat either, so I put in some touches of it here.

Becca, phase 10

Correcting some structural details.

Becca, phase 11

Here I thought I was done. I documented the painting at this stage, but, as I lived with it for a few days, I realized I wasn’t completely satisfied with the lettering at the bottom and a few other elements.

portrait of Becca

Gwenn Seemel
Becca (with detail)
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches

Becca is a painter and a friend.

- Getting it right
- Working the whole composition
- Painting takes time.

CATEGORIES: - English - Practice - Process images - Subjective -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(1) Comments / Commentaires: Done!

-- Bonnie Meltzer -- 2009 . 05 . 21 --

Your paintings work for me at almost every stage.  I even like the first washy one.  i think it is wonderful that the 2 of you are painting each other.  Your styles are different , each being highly inventive.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

Add a comment / Ajouter un commentaire

Name / Votre nom:

Email / Votre e-mail:

(Visible only to Gwenn / Visible uniquement pour Gwenn)

URL / Votre URL:

(Optional / Facultatif)

Comment / Commentaire:

(You can use / Vous pouvez utiliser: < a >, < b >, < i >)

 Remember me for next time. / Retenez mes coordonnées.

 Email me new comments. / Abonnez-moi au fil de discussion.

Please enter the characters you see below / Veuillez rédiger le mot que vous voyez ci-dessous: