Sunday, December 4, 2011

Self as Skeptic

Last week, after spending many hours on the large painting of my son, I wanted to take a little breather so I started a new self portrait.  It is a relief to work smaller and once again from life.  As you can imagine, I am not able to get my five year old son to hold still as a model, so I've been struggling with the limitations of photo reference.  This self portrait is a huge relief in that sense, though I do have a mad crick in my neck.

 open underpainting of 
The Skeptic, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

The day after I started this self portrait, I had the pleasure (for the second time) to see the beautiful Rembrandt in America exhibition at the NCMA with some lovely friends.  This exhibit boasts nearly 50 portraits by both Rembrandt and "the school of Rembrandt".  There are some truly remarkable paintings to feast on, such as the following self portrait painted in 1659 (which is on loan from the National Gallery of Art).  The exhibition continues at the NCMA thru January 22, 2012 and then travels to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

It certainly is a humbling experience to compare my efforts in paint to that of the master Rembrandt!  But it also serves as a great source of inspiration to see how he layered so much paint and completely controls the viewers focus with not only the variation of paint applications, but great mastery of value relationships.  Here are a few more progress shots of my humble attempt.  It is still not complete and unfortunately, photographing a wet painting is nearly futile... my apologies for the poor photo quality.

work in progress 
detail of first pass of color
The Skeptic (in progress), oil on panel, 20" x 16"


  1. Oh, how cool - it's looking great!!! Can't wait to see more!!

  2. Thanks for the in-progress shots. It's very instructive to see your process. We just returned from seeing the Rembrandt exhibit. We spent the entire day going from one great painting to the next until the museum staff chased us out.

  3. I love the eye close-up as well, wonderful....

  4. Alia... Lovely. One of the bonuses of the glare of photographing a wet painting like this is that we get to see your brush strokes... you have beautiful "handwriting." That detail of the first pass is delicious.

  5. You are all so kind. Thank you for the very nice comments.

    Courtenay- I'm so glad you got to see this exhibition and even happier to have met you in person in TN this past weekend.

    Anonymous- I have been feasting on your gift words! Thank you for the encouragement.