I got a fourth 24×36 inch painting finished in the beginning of September. In the late Spring I bought five 24×36 inch canvases with hopes of making five paintings over the summer. I originally wanted to get ten canvases but beside it being too expensive for me at the time I knew I would never get anywhere close to ten painting done. One painting takes about a week to complete. Ten weeks of painting wasn’t going to happen.

The name of this painting is “Green Berries” and I made it from scratch. That means I didn’t look through my backlog of drawings that I’ve made over the years but instead I started by making a new drawing. I wanted to do a face so I pulled one of my inkbooks off my shelf and looked through it for an old ink thumbnail drawing that interested me. I found one.

I was in kind of a weird, impatient, and nervous mood as I was making this painting (not one of my usual moods) and in hindsight I think that shows in both the drawing and the painting. I wanted to draw and paint a face but the face came out with an intensity to it that isn’t usually in my faces. I’d say my faces are usually a little more happy, calm, or passive.

Years ago, back in my student days, I once had a teacher observe that my paintings could make the viewer uncomfortable because the people in the paintings were often looking at the viewer more intensely than the viewer was looking at the painting. I had never noticed that before but I’ve noticed it since. This painting has a particularly intense look on the guy’s face.

I often draw androgynous faces but usually think of them as being male or female. You may see them differently than me and that’s okay. Despite me having long hair all my life I often think of my long haired androgynous characters as female. This character definitely has long hair and in the beginning of the painting I saw him as a her but by the end of the painting I saw him as a he. That doesn’t happen very often with me and my paintings. Even if they are androgynous.

I think something in the intensity of the face changed for me as I was painting it. It the beginning I saw it as my usual passive face looking out at us with a little intensity but as I worked on it I think I put in my own intensity. Usually painting and making art in general calms me down and focuses me. But my weird nervous mood continued as I worked on this one.

I made the painting in the usual way. I made a drawing, transferred that drawing to the canvas by gridding it up, and then I pained in the line with a dark purple. For the other three painting I tried something new and used a purple acrylic ink for the line but I switched back to purple acrylic paint for this one. I was almost out of the ink and now I’m almost out of the paint. I have to buy some more dark purple paint and ink.

I didn’t make a color sketch of this one on the computer as I usually do. Instead I took a photo of the purple line painting and figured out the first colors using Procreate on my iPad. I’ve used that method later on in my process but for this one I used it from the start. I think I figured out the blue and pink face first with the orange hair second, They were the easy bits. The blue eye, purple behind it, and red triangles took a while longer. I think the green of the hat was the last of the main colors that I figured out. Often the colors come easy to me but not with this one. I tried a lot of variations.

In general this one didn’t pull together until the very end. It has a lot of paint on it. Little marks of paint. They’re what made all the color work. Though I like it now as I was working on it I wan’t very happy with it. That could have been my weird mood too.

What vexed me the most was the hair, green hat, and the giant eye. It took a long time to get those right. I started the hair by laying down four different shades of orange. Two shades for the hair behind his face and two shades for the hair in front. But I had to do the front ones twice because the shades of orange didn’t have enough contrast so I made one of them lighter. I think I changed the other one too. Then I went over the purple lines again but with more vigor. It was only after I added a third shade in the front hair and red tick marks plus green tick marks in the back hair that it come together.

After that I slowly built up the brush strokes on the rest of the painting. The green hat came first as I put down a purple line and purple marks. That was fine but the yellow squiggly lines are what really made that area work. They may be the best lines in the whole painting as they stand out so well.

The big eye on top took a while too. I count six concentric half circle rings of tick marks but it took me a day to get them all in there as I worked on the painting. One ring of marks would get done and as I worked on other parts I would see that I needed another ring of color in the eye. Five times I came to that conclusion as I worked. I really like the way that big eye came out. I wasn’t sure it would ever pull together but it did.

My fake writing along the jawline of the face is another thing that helped a lot. I often work with flat color but something like that fake writing can get me some depth. Just that small change in color makes the jawline bend back in space a little and gives a more three dimensional look.

The last thing I painted are those small circles on the face with spirals in them. They finished it off. I don’t think I’ve ever used those particular designs on a face but they work for me here. I dig ‘em. The rest of this painting was dogged determination and work. Some paint here, sit back and contemplate it, more paint here, take another photo, use that photo to make yer another color sketch in Procreate, and then put down those colors in paint. It takes a while but I like it when it’s done.