Portrait – Depression/Down and Out – (Chris)


09.30 – 12.30 One session

Today’s session was one sitting and concentrating on attitude and gesture, this time of dejection, depression and generally down on your luck.  Usually we wouldn’t have a lot of time to sketch first, however, Chris got into pose and character early, almost unnoticed.  He was raised up on a chair on a low table, so was a little higher than my eye level,  I made a quick compositional sketch and worked out where I wanted to place the figure and how much I wanted to include.

Composition sketch Pencil in A4 sketchbook

Composition sketch Pencil in A4 sketchbook

Starting as usual on an acrylic ground, this time of raw umber, yellow ochre and white mix.  I blocked out the figure and the general attitude of position in dilute raw umber, adding darks and mid tones.  Once happy with the position I began to add flesh colours and tones of his clothes.  Chris wore a baggy shirt that he seemed to have shrunk into with torn jeans.  It was important to create the background in a way that emphasised the down and out character, Mike suggested that vertical brush strokes can evoke that atmosphere, and that using a dark colour at the top and lightening it towards the bottom can also assist. I decided to use exaggerated dark on the left of the figure and run dilute paint down from the top right.  This gave the feeling I was after, symbolising a downward direction and maybe even tears.  All colours were kept sombre. I was particularly drawn to Chris’ hands, they were hanging in complete submission and were a little gnarled suggesting that they had worked hard all his life to no avail.  I was hoping to make more of them, however, in retrospect, the unfinished effect made the face the focal point.

Depression  Oil on canvas approx 14 x 20"

Oil on canvas
approx 14 x 20″


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