Bethany 2.0

Portrait of Bethany

Ever get to the end of a portrait and have the person who is in the portrait say, “I don’t like it, it isn’t right”? Yep I have. She was 6 at the time and to be honest she was right. I first attempted this painting in 2018, but was never pleased with my proportions or my colour choices. Recently I invested in some tools to help with my drawing. I have a huge love of painting. I get lost in the process of painting; the tones, shapes and colours. While concentrating on these basic skills the image starts to unfold in front of me. What I don’t like is drawing. My worst nightmare with portraiture is not getting my initial drawing correct. When I don’t get my drawing right I spend so much time chasing the correct perspective that I overwork the image and the painting loses life.

Recently I decided to face Bethany 1.0. I remember the struggle and the disappointment that I felt after doing this painting in 2018, so much so, that I never wanted to see it again. Two years have now passed since those fateful words banished the painting from my sight; long enough to grow as an artist and as a person. I decided to face the ‘impossible’ painting again, this time with a new colour palette and my new tools. I repainted white Gesso over the original painting, much to the shock of my family. However, to not start again with a refreshed canvas would result in an overworked, inharmonious, muddy image.

Revisiting this painting was an interesting test to see if my skill and colour/tone development had grown. The painting proved to be just as challenging as last time. The way may daughter is in this image, with her big eyes, slight head tilt and imbalance of her shoulders is just so her; but it is these very features that made this painting so hard. The shadows, shapes and angles were difficult to replicate correctly. The difficulty gave me a great appreciation of my first attempt and moments where I was questioning why I was doing this painting again.

When I compare Bethany 2.0 with my original attempt I am very pleased with the growth of my skills. I feel a great achievement in facing this disappointment from my past and love how this painting has turned out. I asked my daughter today what she thought of my updated portrait. Her face lit up and her response was, “I love it”. Now that is a great result. My final conclusion is, never be afraid to revisit something from the past and see it renewed. To remove what doesn’t work and start again with a new thinking, different tools and skill set. Yes it is work, but it is worth it.

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