Just finished the portrait Masterclass run by Caroline Bays at the Chertsey Gallery and boy was that intense! She is a great teacher, patient and extremely knowledgeable as well as having a grand sense of fun There were six ‘pupils’ and we did three seven minute poses, two five minutes and three two minute ones before settling down to the long pose with four hours left to produce a finished portrait.
The short poses are so difficult – having to catch an angle, an expression, even making the eyes and the nose the right size and distances apart, takes so much concentration, such sustained ‘looking’ at the model.
Then the long pose is as tough, if not tougher because it seems to me that the more I look, the less I know about what I’m seeing. What is worse I have to render it in colour. Drawing I can just about get my head around, but the way colour works is a completely different language for me. The mixing, the tonal values, warm and cool, colour perspective, the way one colour changes when set against another, achieving shape with colour – all new skills to learn.
Then there is the business of the likeness our efforts bear to the model. If I paint a tree or a flower, it just has to look generically like the specimen I am depicting. Sadly this is not so for a person – it would appear that my generic ‘face’ just won’t cut it!
But before all of this comes an equally puzzling task …just how does this easel go up again?