Self portrait

Once upon a time a friend of mine got married.

Now I don’t know much about weddings, but I’m told presents are as important as presence, and sometimes more so. I think it has something to do with mitigating curses, but maybe I made that up.

There are so many options when it comes to wedding presents. I’ve learned from movies that toasters are always a good one. You can never have too many toasters. Or, you know, a towel or kitchen knife.

Useful. Decorative. But when it comes right down to it, boring. I decided to investigate further, and I’m glad I did because it turned up an unexpected fact. Turns out paintings are valid and even respectable wedding gifts.
I know! Imagine my surprise.

For various reasons (which I’d elaborate on if this post didn’t seem too wordy as is), a painting fit perfectly and moreover is what I decided to present.

Sadly, I’ve never been much of a painter – but not for lack of trying. (I’d done maybe one before and it hadn’t turned out well, though it was very much to spec.)

Luckily, I decided to count that as five separate paintings and like to think I improved with each one.

Using a background I’d already made, just for something other than white, I got to work on the midground. Luckily for you, I didn’t save a lot of the intermediate pictures.

I started with skin; it seemed important. I wasn't quite sure yet what he'd be wearing, so I blocked in the arms up to the shoulder, just in case.

Eventually you have to decide on clothes. I think that's what people mean when they uses phrases like "the human condition".

There comes a point when you just can't put off the eyes and eyebrows any longer, and with it a lot of sighing.

And all your fears are validated.

But hopefully you can correct a bit before you move on to the foreground.

Sketched the hand and forearm, and blocked it in, adding bits of shading detail.

Modified and added more detail. And then all that's left is to make the layers connect. And also fix the background.

And that was pretty much it! I had it printed (18×24, poster size), framed, and wrapped it. And I think we can all admit it’s the greatest wedding gift ever given.

Oh, and in case we’ve never met, that’s me in there. Pressing my hand against the glass. Trying to get out.

Eventually I will.


Yup, wearing an ascot.



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