Painting Portraits: Why This Artist Became “Increasingly Annoyed”

One of my favorite quotes of the past year came from artist Chris Cozen, who told me that when it comes to art, “it’s not finished until you’re happy with it.” I’ve held onto those words, repeating them in mind with every creative endeavor I’ve started, worked on, and when I was satisfied, completed. They helped me make a few things that I’m actually a little proud of, because I didn’t stop when I felt defeated. I kept going, asking myself why I didn’t like specific details, and then considering what I could do to improve them. I even opened up my art journal to a page I had painted months ago and, knowing that I couldn’t make it any worse, I drew within the existing painted designs. It’s still not my best work, but I’m much happier with it.

It’s a relief to know that we’re not alone, isn’t it–that others struggle with knowing when a piece of art is finished, and if it’s not, how to get it there. Gaela Erwin, who’s featured in the special eMagazine The Art of Self: Essential Lessons in Self-Portraiture, shares how she took one of her portrait paintings in a new direction.

Painting portraits, by Gaela Erwin | ArtistsNetwork.com

Above, left: The original “final” version. Above, right: Self-Portrait with Derby Hat (pastel, 36×24) by Gaela Erwin, www.gaelaerwin.com (Pin this!)

“I had finished Self-Portrait with Derby Hat and stored it in a flat file, where I’d occasionally see the painting when looking for other things,” Gaela says. “I became increasingly annoyed with every glimpse. One problem was the 2.5-inch strip I’d added to the left vertical edge of the original (above, left) to enlarge the background. I ripped off the added strip to see what could be done with the remaining painting. I then removed the background and skeleton with a chamois cloth and, over several short sessions, reworked the sky until I was satisfied. By removing those elements, I was able to tighten the focus on the figure and eliminate a certain illustrative quality that had seemed to plague the piece.”

Gaela goes on to share more about her process for painting portraits in The Art of Self: Essential Lessons in Self-Portraiture. This eMagazine includes articles on drawing portraits step by step, artist insights, and more. It’s in good company with two more exclusive eMagazines available at North Light Shop: Acrylic Essentials and Pastel Painting with the Masters. Each issue has articles tailored to the painting experience for which you’re looking. Download one or all three, but remember that your art isn’t complete until you’re satisfied.

Stay creative,
Cherie

P.S.
Great news–Jack Richeson & Co. is giving away 15 EASELS through November 15 at ArtistsNetwork. Enter here daily for your chance to win!

Cherie Haas, online editor**Free download! Learn How to Paint Portraits in this Free Guide
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