"Where do I start? My interest is in portraits as I have a fascination with faces, but my knowledge of colour mixing is non existent and my first an only attempt in acrylics looked quite scary." — A question on how to start painting asked by April_H on 43 Things.
April’s question struck a chord because about two years ago that’s what i wanted to know. It is always a struggle to begin on your own. You dont know where to start. You dont know what to do! I immediately replied to her and an update version of it has been put below.
I love portraits too and faces have always fascinated me. I used to draw from magazine covers or other faces that caught my attention. Usually it was somebody known so I could gauge from my family and friends reactions on how much likeness I had managed to capture. Back then this was my goal. I would be overcome with such urges about once every two years. I'd try out something and I usually got positive feedback from family and friends. It was as though that was what I was looking for. Then I’d just go back to whatever I was doing – which was my full time job.
Two years or so ago I took up drawing on a more regular basis and then after a while even managed to make the transition from just drawing to including painting. I used acrylics as I was able to mix it with water and it seemed easier to use than oil. My first painting was of Cleopatra and is quite a disaster. I still have it – unfinished.
What I tried to do was collect the faces which i found interesting and I'd slip them into folder, digital ones as well as from the newspapers. I would look through these, select one and try painting it, every few days. Being stuck in a hotel helped me focus. There were no disturbances and I’d spend the afternoon painting.
While I could see the mistakes that I was making, I loved each of my efforts. In fact to date, i think that I can count the ones that I dont like on my fingers. And this is not because they’re good but because they’re a part of me. So I see the faults but still like them and a few I love 😀
After about a year of working on my own, I finally did manage to audit a course in a leading art college. Those few months were heavenly. Being with like minded individuals even though they were half my age was an unbelievable experience.
In my struggle to find a way to learn I surfed a lot and i’m now putting some of the resources and links that i found on Blog Schmlog, my artwork on Maya and photographs of the drawing and paintings on Flickr.
One of the sites that I’d recommend joining is WetCanvas! The artists there are very welcoming and encouraging and give good advice. It was this that kept me going when I was on my own.
An artist whose style of painting I really like is Charles Sovek. I found his site veryy useful and it was a regular haunt till I acquired his books. He has written many articles and these are archived on his site. He has published 4 books and one of which "The Basics" with a lot of useful projects guiding beginners is available for free online. He also has some other interesting and useful lessons on "Painting anything under the Sun" and "Why this painting works". I also like the fact that he has made it freely available for all to use.
I have recently joined the Every Day Matters Group and also started participating in the Illustration Friday Challenges. I find the EDM group very supportive and the Illustration Friday folks also come visit and take a look and show their support.