A couple months back, I officially began working on my next piece. Coming off my show in Los Angeles back in March, I had been exhausted and burnt out from all the planning and the stress that came along with it.
Sometime in April, I initially got the idea to create a piece that had an abundance of oranges and leaves. I think I wanted the vivid colors of tangerines as something that complemented the subject. At the time, I had sketched out a portrait of a well-known singer (Chung-Ha). And at the time, I still made my sketches using pencil. But shortly after completing the sketch, I realized that painting her would strip my piece of the genuineness and sincerity that I wanted it to have. I didn't want to paint anyone just for the sake of painting them. Because of that, I lost interest in the piece and just went on to continue working on commissions and studies instead.
Eventually, I returned to the piece with a new sense of purpose. I wanted the piece to revolve around the word “Bambina,” a word that I had acquired from the third track on Vampire Weekend’s fourth LP, Father of the Bride. The Italian word “Bambina” translates to “baby girl”. In addition to the word being the title of the song, the track also includes the line, “For now, ciao, ciao, bambina”, and for some reason, that line stuck out to me and I just wanted to build something off of that. But moving onwards from this point, I knew that I wanted my new painting to embody the themes of happiness, youthfulness and hope amongst others.
As an artist, I am continuously learning new techniques and constantly trying to improve my skills. “The Four Seasons” is a good example of that. Before this piece, I did two things while painting that was detrimental to my work: I often used pencil to sketch my pieces and I did not use the dry brush blending technique. With this painting, I utilized an underpainting using a highly diluted burnt umber. I’ve found that underpaintings make my job ten times easier. It turns the sketching process from “outlining” to a more of a “sculpting” standpoint. This helped me visualize and assess the correct facial proportions for the portrait, which was what I mostly struggle with when it came to painting.
Here, you can see that I’ve begun rendering the eye and the nose area with the underpainting right below it. As you can tell, this was during the very early stage in the process where there’s barely any paint on the portrait and the nose isn’t correctly shaped yet.
With these shots, you can see the face slowly developing. In one of these shots, I’ve also begun working on the hair. This is something that I would go over countless times until I was satisfied with how it looked. Having always “rushed” hair or painted it very loosely, this was a little bit of a challenge for me. But part of the process is taking challenges head on and learning from them.
More WIP shots below:
And the final piece:
The Four Seasons
9” x 12”
- Winsor & Newton Oil Paint
- Gamblin Galkyd
- Gamblin Gamsol
- Assorted brushes
- DIY glass palette