I have been fortunate enough, through the medium of art. To make friends with some very talented artists.
So I thought it would be nice to feature a selection of the artists from Challenge Central, to showcase the talent and individuality that is achievable in watercolour painting.
Todays featured artist is MarkA, based in London, England. Mark uses watercolour to great effect in the subjects he paints. I asked Mark a few questions regarding his art work and below is a transcript of that conversation:
Do you have a favourite artist from the past?
I can honestly say the answer to that is NO. I have only just got into painting a few years ago and until then I really had no interest in art whatsoever. I did decorate the walls of a holiday home with prints of Jack Vettriano as I like the mystique behind his subjects.
Roughly how long have you painted portraits?
As I said, I am a relative newbie when it comes to art. I first picked up a brush at the age of 61 in December 2015 when joining in with a watercolour class on a cruise ship. I was instantly hooked. My first attempt at a portrait was of the actor Jack Nicholson in May 2016.
What other types of painting do you like to paint?
I like seascapes and landscapes, particularly anything with strong reflections in water and shadows. I also like to paint loose floral displays as well as botanical art, so I’m a bit eclectic in that respect.
Would you say then that emotion and character play more of a role in your art than realism?
When I first started I would say that the reverse was true. Most of my painting so far has been from photos or video instruction and I would have been disappointed if my painting didn’t look exactly like the photo, which is what I was striving for. I’m now trying to be a bit more independent in my interpretation so emotion and character are playing an increasingly important role.
Which two colours would you choose to paint if you had to select two?
That’s a difficult one as you need at least the three basic primaries to give a broad range of mixes. I suppose my two favourite colours are Payne’s Grey (and some of my portrait work has been done just using this colour) and Burnt Umber.
Do you have a preference of subject when you paint a portrait?
I like to pick a subject which has interesting skin tones and strong light sources wherever possible. I find that men, of a certain age let’s say, with their weathered looks make particularly good subjects. Although I have painted my grandchildren, I find that, in general children are a difficult subject as it is often difficult to avoid making them look older than they are. Having said that, probably my favourite portrait so far has been one I did of my grandson who was two years old at the time.
Do you have any advice for some one starting out in portraiture?
As I consider myself as someone who has only just “started out” in portraiture my advice may not be as worthy as a seasoned portrait artist. However, I think that drawing and proportions are the best foundations to a good portrait. So invest in an online drawing course (there are hundreds online) and make use of whatever tools you have to ensure you get the facial features in the right proportions. This could be by using the grid method, by using tracing paper or a light pad to trace the image, or by proportional dividers. Some purists might consider it cheating, but until you develop your drawing skills I would consider it necessary.
Do you have an example you can share with us of a portrait you painted and the reasons behind the way you painted it?
This portrait of a man wearing a Keffiyeh was painted as part of an online challenge on the purewatercolour.com website. In order to get the textured look to the man’s weathered face I used layer upon layer of weak glazes and made use of white gouache in parts to bring out the opacity of the skin.
Many thanks to Mark for taking the time too chat to me about his portraits and the techniques he uses in the creation of each portrait. Below is a gallery of Mark’s works: