Katharina Gifford | The Portrait Sketch: Self-Portrait in Shapka
Contemporary Maine Realist Portrait Painter
Maine portrait painter, Portland, Maine, contemporary realist painter, oil on canvas, drawings, portraits, still life, figurative art
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The Portrait Sketch: Self-Portrait in Shapka

I have been getting into doing portrait sketches. A portrait sketch is really just a portrait alla prima, but I think using the phrase ‘sketch’ allows it to be done with less pressure subconsciously; it’s more loose. Or it could just be the new hype word floating around the portrait community that is fun to say, who knows!

The exercise of giving yourself 3 hours to complete a painted portrait is that it is both an exhilarating challenge as well as a frightening one. Frightening in the way that you think could be doing really well for awhile, and you step back and all of sudden you are aghast at the sight before you.  A better way of looking at it, is that using paint, brushes, canvas, your hand, your intellect/training/intuition, you are copying the shapes, colors, light, etc. that you see before you, and inserting your own spin on it. (I guess that is true with every piece of work done, regardless of time spent, but you know what I mean.) The key is, as with any work you’re doing, to step back and really look. I can kind of quote Steven Assael by saying that you need to do all of the thinking when you’re not painting. Don’t analyze too much or at all when you have brush to canvas. Take moments and look at your subject, then look at your painting. Think about what you are trying to do and how to do it. Then paint. Skills, rationale, etc. takes you to the edge of the precipice, but to jump takes faith (the stroke of the brush). Look, think, then paint. I could go on and on about this, and I’m sure I will in future posts…

But for now, I’m working on trying to do more portrait sketches. Also going back into these portrait sketches, which is what I did with Hazel’s portrait (see her portrait my Portfolio).

‘Til next time…

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