I'm posting this here as I have had a rethink of my teaching. I have been asked in the past year about painting faces and have come up with an idea I'd like to share. The format will be different from the other Elemental series.
Painting faces: this came about for a few reasons. 1, because I realised that painting abstract rocks could potentially be challenging to a complete beginner unfamiliar with the forms and style of miniature painting sight unseen! 2, because many students have requested this and I finally sat down one evening and thought deeply about it; 3 not going to lie... I am a mama cliche and I want to paint my children's faces! And I'd like students to shape these classes and we can evolve them together. I think ultimately we all have an interest in painting faces as even if you don't intend to paint faces in your work, they are an excellent way to hone your all your skills at once. I sat down and really thought, how can we do this. The answer came as 'just paint. Just start at the beginning and don't stop until you've finished a face - the face will emerge as you are working.' And it'll all be done together with students, so you'll see every step of the way. So I am heeding this voice!
These Masterclasses are different from my Elemental class series (Rocks, Clouds… Ether etc). These are slo-o-o-o-o-o-w classes. We break it down to the minutest level and inspect every last detail - miniature painting is, after all, all about the detail. We’ll focus on a single face in each course, so that by the end of the course you’ll have completed one face. Seems like not much? It isn’t. It isn’t supposed to be - unlike the Elemental series where you are welcome to do a small corner, an in-depth study or a whole painting of your choosing, in these classes we will be honing our skills and diving very deeply into the minutiae of the miniature faces, ie. the quirks of a nose, the many lines that make up hair, beards, brows… a single subtle shift of a line can make a young nose old, or a quizzical eye angry. These nuances are subtle and they take time. It’s almost the opposite of the Elemental series in that we are zooming in, via Zoom! - intensely on the lines and dots that make up a face. Ideally, you will be painting with me - I will demonstrate, and you will follow along in the gaps between (colours need to dry, areas need to be burnished, intense rendering demands eye breaks etc) so I can offer help and advice along your journey. In many ways the polar opposite to my other classes, I’ll provide the reference image and we will paint the same face for the whole duration in these classes. Each 2 hour session will build on the next, and we’ll just concentrate on completing this single face for the entire course. By taking it so extremely slowly, I do guarantee that wherever you are, whatever stage you are at with painting, you.will.get.better - as you must, by doing this deep practice with me. If man (humankind) is the measure of all things, then the face is the measure of a miniature. Join me in this small class and I’ll guide you in the slow meditative concentrated energy it takes to paint the epitome of miniature painting - the human face.
Here’s the (rough) schedule for 2021 - I want to evolve this together so for the next courses, take a vote on which face we decide to paint together. I can come up with some suggestions... and so can you! Which faces would you like to paint? Which faces are you drawn to? As unfortunately, I am drawn to despots and old men, which isn't exactly representative of the human population as a whole, neither is the former particularly useful in this day and age (old men with beards are still cool). Help me widen my repertoire!
The cultural and geographical zones of faces in miniature and water-based painting
FEBRUARY Mughal Indian
MARCH Chinese - complements Persian as the source
APRIL Western - complements Mughal as a counterpart - in Mughal style
The original earth colours and the first races
JULY Brown and yellow
AUGUST Red - Native peoples, and Green - olive, mixed skin
Ages and stages
DECEMBER Old age
Expression and gesture
JANUARY Fear - and surprise
Join me in a very unusual crucible in which we are confronted with perhaps the ultimate test - painting oneself. It does not have to be a likeness. Instead, we will aim to capture the very essence of the artist - yourself. It is a journey of the soul as much as a wandering with the brush - taking a line for a walk as Paul Klee said and understanding new truths about your character and personality and simultaneously an objective, honest nitty-gritty reflection of what you really look like. Yes, your bum looks big in that. Only joking. We are not painting your bum. We are painting your completely unique, one-in-a-million, millennia-of-evolution-refined, unquestionably singular, devastatingly handsome/breathtakingly beautiful/possibly non-binary gender-neutral as many miniatures seem to be - face. When was the last time you scrutinised your septum? Or inspected your eyebrows? Or indeed your ears? (Note for My Name is Red readers - the ear is significant! Often overlooked but all our ears are completely unique too!) Have a go. You’ll learn, we’ll all learn something. And emerge with a renewed knowledge of proportion, form, line, shading, colour and a whole array of other skills that can be applied to any other aspect of a miniature. Man [humankind] is the measure of all things, said Protagoras. Plato deemed this to mean that there is no objective truth. We’ll ponder our face in the looking-glass until we find the answer. ‘Know thyself’… or, as in Ancient Greece, ‘Know thy measure.’ Here, we’ll do both.
You will need a mirror for this class.