Three Self-Portraits: Three Ways to Paint
- Title: 3 Self-Portraits
- Medium: Oil on Canvas
- Size in Centimeters: 30 x 90
- Year: 2012
- Made in: Rome, Italy
- Collection of the Artist
This image hangs in my studio as a reminder of how much difference an edge can make. The paintings were made during the course “Velazquez Revisited: Portraits all Prima” in the Spring of 2012.
From the bottom up:
- Thinking line instead of mass. Edges remain sharp (more or less);
- Thinking mass instead of line. Masses are blended vigorously after each 15 minute session with a dry bristle brush;
- A composite of the first two: start with mass, then blend, then repeat. Then think line and edge. It never ceases to amaze me how this counter-intuitive process (mass before line) changes the dynamics.
Just stumbled on this. Good work. Great examples of line/mass/combo. Could you give a bit more detail of what exactly you learned doing mass then line? And how exactly are you blocking in masses? Step-by-step might be good. Visual progression even better.
Hi Corey. Thank you for the compliments.
Force yourself to think mass instead of line and I think you’ll quickly find out for yourself the benefits. Use hog bristle brushes at least an inch wide, even when you’re painting eyes and details. Also important is using a dry bristle to blend what you have every 15 minutes (set a round timer for the model a round of 5 sessions, 15 minutes each, with a break of 5 minutes between each session and during the break, blend). And when I say “blend,” I don’t mean to do so delicately, be aggressive.
If you do a search here for “Portrait of a Young Italian,” that painting was done entirely with inch-wide hog bristles (i.e., no small brushes).
I think the most important aspect of “mass first” is how it changes the role of line: no longer needed as a “contour workhorse,” it becomes more a tool of emphasis and nuance, like what you see around the eyes, nose, mouth, and left jaw.
I hope that helps.