Birthdays, Portraits and Fear…Oh My!

Whew!  It has been a week! Or has it been two since I last posted?  I’m not sure.  But I AM sure that life has been busy.  A friend of mine once said, “May is like December, only without the presents.”  She was referring to how crazy busy this month is…one event after the other, relentlessly careening to the end of the school year.  But for our family, it also has the presents.  We really should budget for May just as much as for Christmas because we have so many birthdays this month: my sister, my husband, my son, my  mother-in-law, and many friends both near and far.  As a part of celebrating my husband’s birthday last week, a few work friends got together for lunch.  When he was asked where he wanted to go, he replied that he didn’t want to go anywhere that he would have to wear a hat! (A Mexican restaurant in town puts a sombrero on your head while they sing to you and take your picture!)  Well, the gauntlet had been thrown…I had to find him a hat.  The fabric chef’s hat was perfect, since he’s a marvelous cook.  We took pictures, but didn’t sing.  We should have though, to complete the embarrassment:)

The last time I posted, I was warming up for a portrait commission that I wanted to try in watercolor.  I have not actually begun the final version, but have made several portraits in watercolor to continue getting my sea legs and try out different papers, etc.  Somehow in the process, I’ve realized I have a good bit of fear about painting portraits in watercolor.  And here’s the kicker:  I’ve always longed to be able to paint portraits in watercolor.  I’ve come close to a few attempts here and there. I’ve looked at my tries, sometimes adding pastel to make up for my lack of ability, only to then decide I’d better high-tail-it outathere and begin something else…some knitting, or a sketch in pen, or something less threatening.  Well, my friends…I’ve made a decision:

I’m going to really give it a go…to really “learn” to paint portraits in watercolor…the transparent, loosy, oozly, lovelies that I adore so much in the work of Charles Reid, Alex Powers and others.  I’m going to embark on a 100 Portraits journey.  And I’m going to share the journey with you.  Not to paint 100 perfect portraits, but to paint them for what I can learn from them.  I hope it leads to another 100.  Of course, I’ll sprinkle in all the line drawings, musings, yarn works, etc…I’ll certainly need places to run to when the going gets tough with the portraits.  But I’m resolved to make them, to read all the books I can on the subject (in lieu of a workshop which is out of range both for available money and time) and to paint, paint, paint.  So I’ll show them to you, the not-so-good ones and the good ones (of course, this definition of good is a strange and not very reliable assessment…it will come down to whether I myself deem them good or not, which is a dangerous thing).

This portrait of my husband, Randy, is the first.  However, I have a few others I’ve done in the last week that I’ll show you, plus a few from last summer.  I’ll tell you what I like about them, what I don’t think is working, and what I’ve learned.  This portrait of Randy in his chef hat turned out rather well, I think.  In many ways, my portraits are only as good as my drawing.  So I spend a lot of time drawing first.  There is definitely a likeness (a point on which I will be judging these), and freedom to the LOOK of the watercolor.  I say, the look of it, because in some places there was quite a bit of work and re-working.  Watercolor is great for this!  Whoever says you can’t re-work watercolor truly has just never tried!  It is quite forgiving.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little journey with me.

I do SO love that you stop by and visit my little online studio!

0 thoughts on “Birthdays, Portraits and Fear…Oh My!

  1. Cecelia says:

    Good luck with your project. I think the portrait above is really good. I love to do portraits and watercolors, too, but I am having a lot of trouble getting a decent flesh color. I used to be able to do it, with simple Prang watercolors for children. But I went to Winsor Newton and everything is just too bright yellow! I think maybe your loose style might work a lot better! Look forward to seeing what else you will do.

  2. susan says:

    Hurrah for you for being bold and brave. Such a terrific journey this is going to be, you have so much talent. I’m excited for future visits to your site.

  3. Alex Tan says:

    This is getting me really pumped up and excited! =) I fell in love with portrait about a year and half ago, and it’s been so much fun doing those, so I am really sure you’re going to have tons of fun with your 100 portrait project.
    By the way, the one on the chef spelled A.W.E.S.O.M.E.N.E.S.S. to me ^^

  4. Mom says:

    Jen – I LOVE this one of Randy. I think it’s the best one I’ve seen of him! It so captures that “I’m thrilled to have a fuss made over me, but I”m trying not to show it” smile too.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thanks for the references Meinhild…I’m not going to set myself to the “every day” thing…that would take all the fun out of it for me with pressure to produce a portrait a day. But it will still be loads of fun. Love the roses!

  5. Janene says:

    You are off to a great start with this portrait. Your husband looks slightly embarrassed but like he is having a good time too. I look forward to more portraits. It is so true that it takes practice to improve.

  6. Johanna says:

    What a great goal, I just set a similar goal with my friend Anna, that we would do 100 portraits of each other! This is a great painting, I coldn’t say about the likeness, but I really like your style, and you captured a smile in the wink of his eye, beautiful. It sure has the loseness that you speak of in your next post. Great start!

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