Portrait Time-lapse

This is a portrait I did of a friend a few years ago. As a last-minute idea I set my old cellphone on a chair and had it take a photo every few minutes over the course of the week. The battery kept dying and people kept bumping into the chair so the already-poor-quality image jumps around a lot. My apologies. I found the pictures recently and threw them together:
 

Self Portraits over the Years

Every year on my birthday I paint a self portrait. Many I’ve abandoned and destroyed, some years I skipped it, and I lost a hard disk a few years back with the only images of some of them. These are the ones that survived. It’s interesting for me to look back over the years to see the change in my understanding of drawing and painting.

My early attempts were pretty bad. The first two are from my three years at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The art department there wasn’t very didactic, and students were left to their own devices for the most part. All my technical knowledge at this stage was from books. Notice the poor compositions, the poor handling, the poor understanding of form…etc.

ucsc Self Portraits over the Years

Self Portraits from my UCSC days. 1989-1992

The second two are from my first years at Charles H. Cecil studios. Notice in the painting the over-modelling of the hair as well as the poor design and annoying fuzziness in the clothes,

earlyselfportraits Self Portraits over the Years

Early Cecilian Self Portraits. 1993-4

The portrait on the left was from 2002 (I think), and it starts to show a more mature style. Better design overall, better handling of the paint, and a more successful rendering of atmosphere. On the right is a sketch of Saint Mark’s Church in Venice as I was there on a plein air trip for my birthday one year.

2002 Self Portraits over the Years

Self Portrait from 2002(?) and Saint Marc's Church .

The next three portraits are recent and are more ambitious in scope, being 3/4 and full length with backgrounds. One thing about self portraits is that they can be a great way to experiment with new materials and techniques. The first one was one of the more complicated portraits I had ever set up, and the objects in the background were selected to describe aspects of my life. The second painting was painted on a much heavier weave of canvas than I am used to, and the last one was my first attempt at an outdoor portrait.

self Self Portraits over the Years

Self Portrait, 2005.

P1000849 Self Portraits over the Years

Self Portrait, 2007

outdoor Self Portraits over the Years

Outdoor Self Portrait, 2008.

Here is a quick video (2 minutes) showing a time-lapse of this year’s self portrait. My experiment this year was to do the reverse of a grisaille, so I did the underpainting with a high chroma and glazed and scumbled the grays, greens, and browns over it.

(Update: Here is the final image.)

2010 Self Portraits over the Years

Self Portrait, 2010.

Improvement in oil painting is not a linear progression in my opinion. The ability to see improves before technical skill, and we often have difficulty assessing honestly exactly how our work looks. Below is my attempt at graphing the progression.improvement2 Self Portraits over the Years

(Being my first attempt at visually interpreting quantitative information, it probably looks similar to the self portraits at the top of the post.)

Sunday morning time-lapse fun

Here is a short video from a quick portrait sketch yesterday morning. After a one-shot session like this I usually end up with a ton of paint on the canvas from pushing shapes around quickly. This is where scraping down with a palette knife is so useful. In fact, I would say scraping down between sessions at the beginning of a portrait is probably the second most useful thing I learned while studying portraiture (the first being the sight-size technique).

I have a short video of the scraping down process which I’ll add soon.

Autumn

torricella autumn Autumn

I haven’t been out landscape painting this Autumn as much as I would have liked. The image above is an HDR photograph, but it gives an idea of the colors here in Tuscany at the moment.

Here is a short timelapse of a sketch for a commission up near Barberino val d’Elsa. Its a 17th century copy of the Duomo of Florence in the middle of the countryside, people often think I’m dabbling in surrealism when they see the paintings, but its really there.

Distance in Portraiture

p1040260 Distance in Portraiture

At work on a full-length portrait in Palazzo Corsini

I’m currently working on one of the larger portraits I’ve ever painted. I also have very little time to do it as the sitter is about to have a baby. Luckily the room where I’m working is the largest room I’ve ever had to do a portrait commission in, and it is so much easier to paint fast when you have this amount of distance to see the model from.

Here is a quick time lapse film of the first four days. A last minute idea using my cellphone camera, so the quality is not the best. The jumps in progress are because the battery kept dying…

 

Time-lapse portrait

An old film of a portrait sketch, finished in about 2 hours and a photo was taken every brushstroke. The ‘model’ was actually a professional photographer who had an appointment pushed back an hour and came over to kill time in my studio. I had to paint the portrait (fast), remember to take a photo after every brushstroke (using my point and shoot), and keep him entertained.

This winter we’ll have artificial light in the studio and I want to try a long project time-lapse film. With natural light the colors change a lot over the course of a day and the changing hue is too distracting when sped up.