Quick Portrait Painting

We've been doing a lot of short drawings in my life-drawing course recently (2-5 minutes or so), and although the drawings I get out of those exercises are rarely anything to rave about I like the way that having such a short deadline changes the way I approach the drawing. So, in that spirit I decided to try a few of what the kids are calling speed paintings. First, I should say that trying to paint something in 2-5 minutes was just not helpful. Paint just takes longer. Instead I aimed for about 15-30 minutes.

The first one is an acrylic of an interesting fellow who had his daguerreotype taken some time around the turn of the century.

The result is awfully flat and I had quite a bit of trouble blending values on the face because of the way acrylics dry as you work. I think I've been getting so used to oil paints from class that switching back to acrylic was problematic. Oil stays wet and workable for hours or even days so blending colors on the canvas is much easier.

The second one I painted in photoshop. This is Mr. Kanae Kobayashi, a Japanese Businessman from post WWII Japan who's photo is in the Life archive.

After all the trouble with the acrylics I decided to try a little experiment with this one. In Photoshop I set my brush to a fixed size (i.e. not growing and shrinking with pressure) and completely opaque. That way there would be no transparent washes and any blending I wanted to do I would have to do by mixing and sampling adjacent colors. I ended up with this sort of patchy oil-pastel look that's kind of interesting.