drawing portraits out of boredom at high school

I did not paint a lot figures over the last years. As I started painting in my ‘early years’ around 2003/2004 I worked with many figures in my work though. Also in my time at high school that was dominated with boredom I doodled a lot of comic like girls. I became pretty good at giving expression to faces (I wouldn’t say that from myself at that moment…). Another thing is drawing a complete body and finding a pose that is not too static and stiff.

That was the face I wanted!

a beautiful face

In my latest painting Girl in the flax field I was struggling with the girl that was walking out of the field. I already had a background layer with a sky and grass. The first face I drew in the sky and I was so pleased with it. But, if I would add the body in the right proportions she would float above the grass and flax… I wanted her to come out of the field, pushing the flax away. I could do two things: either keeping the beautiful face and change the grass part and make more perspective or remove this face and start all over again.

How long can her legs be?

be my own model if there’s no model

I chose the last option, with pain in my heart. Sorry, dear girl… Another yellow layer for the sky… and then I was a bit afraid to do something. I needed a good strategy first. I’m not the one who puts in faces and removes them after over and over again. I needed a solid plan: what was her exact pose? A bit diagonal, but her head looking to the viewer. O my, and how should I do that neck and shoulders? The best idea came up when my partner and I had a short walk and I saw reed stems. I asked him to make a photo of me in different poses. At home, I would figure out which one was definitely the best.

OK it’s no flax but I can do the same as she does…

using a wooden mannequin

Back home I sketched several figures and I finally grabbed my wooden mannequin to define the final pose. I took pictures of the wooden doll and the painting, so I could measure how large the figure was going to be. I know, this sounds crazy, but it helped!

This is a very wooden pose anyway…

a new figure rises

Finally, I drew the figure on the canvas, with the contours of the mannequin. It’s strange, but it was good at once. Her face was even better than the first face. And her body became just like I wanted it to be. The process of coloring took me a while and unfortunately I have no pictures of every stage but I’ll show you the first details of the face here. The rest, you can see in the finished painting Girl in the flax field.