Conrad – oil sketches

My portrait of Conrad (previous post) was a bit precious, so to loosen up I’ve done four sketches, in oil, each taking about one hour to do.

Each one has some strengths and weaknesses, but I think I’ve benefitted from this exercise by gaining some confidence in mixing colours and working with the paint.

Conrad – portrait 1

Conrad, oil painting

Conrad, oil painting

I’ve tried to apply what I learnt from the Manet studies (see previous post) in a portrait of Conrad. I struggled with this painting. First I didn’t capture a true likeness from the outset. Conrad sat for me, but I  had to resort to taking a photo to copy from. Then I went back to painting from life to get a reality check and finish the picture off. Along the way I compared monochrome photos of a draft and a photo to see how the tonal values compared.

I’m pleased with the finished painting, but I lost the plot a far as learning from Manet is concerned. My application of paint is not done with flourish or confidence or assurance. It is tentative. I will have another go and this time give myself a time limit – this might force me to be more bold in the handing of the paint. These are pictures of work in progress:



I want to improve how I handle oil paint. To get some experience in, I’ve turned to one of my favourite painters – Manet.  The task I’ve set has been to copy his work as accurately as possible using actual sized details from copies of his paintings. I’m really pleased with how they have turned out and with what this exercise has taught me.

It’s made me try out a looser approach. But there is nothing casual about Manet’s work – each brushstroke counts and the exercise has made me appreciate how Manet closely observed and captured what he was looking at. For my next project I’ll have a stab at a portrait following Manet’s technique as well as I can.