July - September, 2018: A selection of my artwork is now available for the summer season at Evrgreen, a charming coffee shop in the townsite of Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park!

Representation: I am honoured to have my work represented by these well-respected professional galleries:
Darrell Bell Gallery located in the Canada Building in downtown Saskatoon
Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, 2266 Smith Street- a vibrant, bustling part of town.

November 10, 2016: I was interviewed by Daily Paintworks as their Spotlight Artist for a week! Read my interview on the DPW News blog!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's a Beginning...

Little Boy
oil on canvas paper

Okay, so this is my second attempt at a portrait. A couple of months ago I joined an online challenge called Following the Masters and worked from a portrait of the Madonna by Raphael (you can see my entry here). This portrait I am showing today was not for any online challenge, but just an exercise for myself using a photo I had of this cute little boy. At any rate, I am relatively happy with the result because there is actually a resemblance! The problem is I have somehow aged him by a few years! I don't exactly know what I did to make him look older than he is, but never-the-less I have done something. So at this point the only people that would ever commission me to paint their portrait would be teenagers because they always want to come across older than they really are! People 25 and older are going to steer clear away from me unless I improve! All silliness aside,  I'm pleased that my brush strokes stayed looser in this painting as compared to the Madonna painting. Also, I think the end result is pretty good considering I did virtually no under-painting or any pencil sketch on the canvas paper before I began. Having said all of that, I know I have a long way to go! I have tons to learn about using colour in portraits and using brushstrokes to convey the image in an interesting and dynamic way. There is something not right with the eyes... possibly not quite the same size or shape? As well, in the photo the head was cropped at the top, so I followed that (I really didn't misjudge the placement of the head on the page!) I'd love to hear some feedback... so please, if you have time, leave a comment or email me. The link to my email can be found on my profile page.  

I admit that when I was at the studio last week I allowed myself to get sidetracked by this portrait. I hit a snag with my large canvas in that I am overwhelmed by it! Rather than muscling through the tough stage I just turned my back on it and started something new! What can I say? I can procrastinate with the best of them! In my defense, though, I nearly gave up on the portrait several times... but didn't, so I guess I have some kind of staying power. As I moved around the 10x8 paper working on various parts of the face I remember some self-talk kind of like this: "Man, noses are hard!", "Jeez, eyes are impossible!", "No, it's the lips... lips are hard!", "You are brutal at chins", "Ears. Are. Hard." And so it went until I had hit upon every single possible part of the face thus coming to the conclusion that portraits are hard! But...  

...it was fun!


Harry Kent said...

this is GOOD, Nicki! don't listen to those silly voices in your head. None of us would do anything if we did, cause we all have them.

and i for one think you did just the right thing in following your heart and painting what you felt like at the time.

and what a great job youve done. have a close look at that bottom lip - beautifully done. Ears are great, and they are really difficult at this angle. And the overall form is clearly established. And the face has real sense of being a person.

Well done, you! Cheers, h

Linda Popple said...

Only your 2nd portrait? My gosh! All I can say is - well done! Glad you had fun doing it!

-Don said...

First of all, turning your back on a challenging painting is not a copout, it's a timeout. It's the right thing to do as long as you continue to create with some other piece or medium as far as I'm concerned. That biggie will come to you and you'll have all the answers soon.

Second of all, nice portrait. I think that what makes him seem older to you it the sharp angles in his chin, cheeks, lips and nose. A child usually has softer edges - puffier, if you will. Rarely does a child have any sharp angles, unless they are undernourished or ill. I think the shape of the eyes are right on. If you hold your hand over the lower portion of the painting, everything above it looks like a child. If you hold your hand over the top part, everything below looks older.

As always, this is just my two-cents.

Keep challenging yourself, sister. You're onto something here.


Anonymous said...

hey love this post Nicki: your ability to laugh at things and your perseverence come through! you've done a good job with the portrait even though you did set yourself one of the toughest portrait challenges: a child! i'm looking forward to see how you incorporate your distinct brushwork in portraits:)

Nicki said...

Hi Harry,

Thank you so much! Your comments have got me excited! I have spent quite a bit of time studying your self- portraits and I could learn a lot from you. Actually, let me rephrase that... I WILL learn a lot from you!

Thanks again,

Linda, thanks a bunch. I should maybe clarify something... it is actually my third portrait... I did a B-R-U-T-A-L self portrait in university about 20 years ago, so I don't count it. Also I should have qualified things by saying "painted" portrait because I have drawn faces before. Using paint is and colour is an entirely different animal, though.


Hi Don,

You are always the voice of reason for me. Yes, let's call it a timeout! And thank you for helping to nail down why this boy ended up looking older. What you say makes sense... I need to puff him up a bit!

Once again I appreciate your advice. I don't suppose you want to move to Canada so you can mentor me? :o)


Hi Rahina,

Nice to hear from you, my friend! Yes, I like to say that if I don't laugh about things I will be crying... and I would rather laugh! Thanks for your encouraging words... it means a lot coming from a fab portrait artist!


Melanie Rawlings said...

how wonderful, i would'nt attempt this, this far along in my work, after this drawing class perhaps. Great work

Pam Holnback said...

I think that having fun is half the fun!

Nicki said...

Hi Melanie,

Thanks... I decided that sometimes you just have to say "What the heck!" and give something new a try. I'll keep playing, but I am getting more and more interested in some sort of formal class in painting figures/portraits. It might just speed the learning curve along.


Hi Pam,

You are so right! Thanks for dropping by! I'm off to check out your blog now...