Painting is a relatively new interest of mine, or at least, I’ve only actually been painting since January — I’ve been saying that I’d “like” to paint for ages now, but only in the last six or seven months actually taken the plunge.
I’m not very good. Which I guess I should expect? I’ve only been at it six months, I’ve had no formal training, I took a full month-and-a-half off to participate in various challenges, and it’s not like I have time to sit and paint for hours and hours a day. I mean, it’s a skill to cultivate, not something I should expect to be awesome at right at the start.
And honestly, I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the past few months, just as I can see a lot of ways in which I still have to grow.
To make an effort towards actually becoming better, I’ve tried to focus on human figures, particularly faces and hands, as those are both favorite subjects for me to paint (I might have a bit of a hand kink, honestly?¹) as well as things that give me a lot of trouble. I had an idea for a mixed-media piece in mind for a long time, and had been putting it off for a while for fear of, well, fucking it up, I guess. I tend to build up projects in my head, have a very set, clear visual image of what I’m setting out to commit to canvas, and the fact that it so very, very rarely matches up means I procrastinate on the attempt in the hopes that at some point I’ll simply arrive at the level of skill and talent I’d need in order to do the project justice.
(Of course, you don’t get to that level without painting, but let’s not go crazy by bringing logic into this.)
So, given that I had time off this week, I finally made an effort. And… well, it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, but it’s probably a shade better than I expected.
The proportions feel off, first of all, though that bothers me less than you might expect, and I’ll be honest — I’m proud enough of the way the hand turned out that she could proportionally look like a T-Rex, and I think I’d be a-okay with it. Look, I know it’s not perfect, but that’s the best damn hand I ever painted. I certainly wasn’t going to roll the dice and attempt a repaint after getting that on the first shot.
I’m also incredibly pleased with how the background — which was a spur-of-the-moment, last minute addition turned out. That’s a Dollar Tree stencil, by the way, and I am inexplicably proud of that fact, as well. My camera does not take the best photos, so it’s less obvious here than looking at the painting in real life, but the metallic on black, and the busyness of the background does a lot to make the figure stand out, and I love that.
I’m less thrilled with (though not totally hating) her facial expression. I had a very clear “look” in mind, a very visceral, panicked expression that I just don’t yet have the skill to capture. As it is, she looks vaguely distraught, but also like maybe she’s wondering if she left the oven on??
The roses themselves I’m very pleased with — this is the second batch, after badly scorching the first (look, it’s been a while since I’ve used Sculpey, and may have mis-remembered the bake time/thickness ratio), though the pink ones are a little more, uh, vibrant than I would have liked (I’m going to try to mute them a bit with some matte pink eye shadow (which is awesome for shading Sculpey) before I seal them. I still feel like the floral piece is a bit sparse (you can see small patches of canvas in the gaps between flowers), but that will be a project for another day.
¹I have the fairly idiosyncratic tendency to become very enamored with particular body parts, and they are never the ones that most people would guess. Even in people normally considered unattractive, I have fallen head over heels. See: Steve Buscemi’s shoulders; Mackenzie Crooks’ hands.
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