Experimentation: Painting around a portrait


I have been thinking  a lot recently about mixed media images.  Specifically, about combining photographs with other art forms (e.g., painting, drawing etc.).  One of the projects that I looked at earlier in this course, and somehow keep coming back to, is Elske Verdoorn’s People of Domus.  The portraits that she created (in collaboration with her subjects) are just so striking that I repeatedly find myself thinking about them.

I decided to try something similar with one of my own photo-portraits.  As my starting point, I choose a photograph of my son sleeping on the sofa.  I altered the image slightly in Photoshop to remove all of the detail above his sleeping figure.  I then printed out the image onto matt photo paper and started painting.

Obviously the difference here, is that Verdoorn collaborated with her subjects, whilst I worked on my own.  I did however deliberately select materials that would be compatible with the subject (i.e., poster paints and glitter).  Although admittedly, this was at least in part, due to me having these materials readily available.

The image shown here is actually my second attempt at the process because my first picture did not work at all well.  In my first attempt, I tried to emulate Verdoorn’s work more directly.  I used strong colours with more abrupt transitions between them but this style of working looked contrived by my hand.  For my second attempt, I realised that I would need to adapt the process into something that felt more natural to me.  Consequently, I mixed more subtle colours, and softened the transitions, until I created something that I was happy with.