Saturday, September 5, 2009

W.I.P. Self-Portrait - Step 2 - Painting and Panic!!

I cannot believe it but I messed this up sooooo badly!!

Everything started out looking really good. I built up the peaches on the skin and the golden browns in the hair. Wanting the entire painting to have a bluish tint, I went ahead and laid down a light blue wash over the face and hair.

The problem?

That blue wash turned the skin a moldy color and made the hair a green tone! That WASN'T the look I was trying to achieve! Ughh!!

All of the cast shadows I blocked in got washed out as well.

And to make matters worse, it appears that the irises are too big and the face is slightly too short and round. Now it kind of looks a bit like Justin Timberlake instead of me!

Fuckity-fuck and super shit!!!!!

Oooooh, I swear to God, I will NOT be starting over and redrawing this again. If I can't fix it I guess this self-portrait just wasn't meant to be!

What a mess, what a mess, what a mess.....

Do any artists have suggestions on how to correct this? The skin now has both cool and warm tones in it. Should I make the cast shadows on the face and hand darker blues or darker peaches? I'm afraid either way is going to look wrong.

*heavy sigh*

I guess you all know what I'll be doing this Labor Day weekend. Trying to salvage this painting or send it to self-portrait heaven and say, "Bye, bye, bye.....bye bye!"


Pilgrim said...

I told you to leave the drawing as it is, didn´t I?! Propz Pilgrim

MartininBroda said...

It’s a bit muddy indeed, so no suggestions, just a little hug and: Keep working! Pour your heart into your art, now, again. :-)

Anonymous said...

Honestly I was looking at and pondering on the butterflies and wondering how they were going to turn out. I didn't even notice anything wrong with the painting. Then again, this is from someone who's right brain died ages ago.

amar said...

Dean, I'm so sorry this didn't turn out they way you wanted. I do hope this self-portrait is salvageable.

It looks like you're crying tears of light. I like what you've done with this symbolically.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should leave it as it is. It's just an initial observation.

Mona Diane Conner said...

Dean, I think the only thing throwing you off is that the lighter areas are blue, which flattens them out a little. Try going over the light areas with a light warm fleshy tone (either in gouache, acrylic or egg tempera). Then you can see your shadow areas better and can go back and emphasize them too. Good luck!

Dean Grey said...


I knew you were going to bring that up! LOL

As soon I made the mistake I immediately thought of your original suggestion to leave it as a pencil drawing.

In my defense, I still wanted some color in it though!



I appreciate it!



That's nice of you to say but there's something definitely wrong with the painting now.



I hope this self-portrait is salvageable too!



Thanks for the observation but if I left it like this I'd rather just rip it up and destroy it. No, it has to corrected in some way or I can't rest!



You're on to something here!

I'm definitely going to give gouache a try!

Also, I plan on making the background really dark so maybe the skin won't look so shocking as it does now once all the blacks are in place.

I appreciate all the help I can get....especially from a master portrait artist such as yourself!!


Thanks to everyone for expressing their thoughts on this!


Anonymous said...

Hi Dean! I'm not artist at all, I like the painting. I know it's not your vision, but as an outsider looking in, I see the emotion and those eyes are VERY penetrating. Looking deeply...and lol, it ain't no n'sync boytoy!!! I think it's really good!

stanw said...

Precious man, I think something good will still come out of this drawing as you continue to work at it. Like life, sometimes things just don't turn out as we pictured it doing, instead we just plug away and in a bit (might be a long bit) we'll figure it out and say, "Why didn't I do that long ago?" The secret is not giving up. I believe in you and your talent.


Paula Villanova said...

Hey Dean...for what it's worth, I think it's kind of expressive...I am not looking at the original though so maybe that is muddy, but on my monitor looked kind of cool. (although I was concerned that you appeared to be crying...fair game for a self portrait but I'm just hoping your finding happiness!) I've been out of blogland for awhile so I need to catch up!

Anonymous said...

When we follow our heart things have a way of working themselves out. Keep is well on its way. Stay true to your vision my friend:)

Leigh said...


I hope you're able to salvage this portrait, I rather like it! If you can't though, I hope you will give it another shot.

Good luck!


Lori said...

I think that its a sign, seriously! The blue did change everything, but so has the depression in your life. I think the man inside sees this of the pain the blue boy image has lived with and your emerging. So as a artist, you see what was the mistake and as a man your moving ahead. If it sucks to you, rid yourself of it. Many works in our life whether on paper or in another sense, when they go wrong, growing, is when you can walk away and start fresh! I'm not trying to be poetic, I feel we ignore the simplest signs from God, we're finally growing. From the outside looking in, you seems much more calmer then in the last few weeks. Could it be the rain finally stopped out our way, could be another sign it has lifted some clouds. You know I could do a freakin happy dance, love when someone freely cusses! Hugs to you, my blue eyed friend, Lori

Dean Grey said...


I think it has potential. I think!



That is the EXACT attitude I'm taking with this self-portrait!

I put way too much time into the original drawing to just stop!



Thanks for catching up!

I think it looks cool too but not natural looking like I originally wanted.

The plan was for shades of blue coming from the skin....not green! It is indeed muddy in person!



I'm staying true to my vision!!!



Thanks for wishing me luck! I'll need it!



I see where you're coming from but I'm DETERMINED to make this particular self-portrait work!

I put too much emotion into it already and must see it through.

Make no mistake, when painting, this step almost always occurs. It's just a matter of trying to correct it....if possible.

I'm taking the 'blue wash mess-up' as a different kind of sign. That sometimes obstacles get in our way and rather than just quit I'm going to try to work around it, or better yet, cut my way straight through to the other side!

I WILL make this work!


I really appreciate everyone's suggestions on this!


Lori said...

Guess I used the wrong words to convey my interpretation. I suppose as an artist the feelings are far different with a piece of work then I would know, I'm not an artist. I do however get your point. Maybe years ago I might have felt that way, but now as I'm older I don't think I've the patience to work through it. (A art miss that comes out not as planned) I would move on. Sorry if I came off brash or insensitive towards your portrait. I'm really sorry if I hurt or upset you with my thoughts as they came out. Good luck with your piece. I would never intentionally be rude to you, so very sorry if I came across as so.

Carolina said...

Hi Dean!
This is a Fauvist version of you ;)I can't give you any advise because I don't know what to do, but Mona's given great tips to work with. Hope to see how it turns out!
Welcome back!

Dean Grey said...


You didn't come off as being insensitive AT ALL.

I understood where you were coming from and agree with you. In life, if something didn't work out, I too would move on from it.

But in painting, I have much more control and experience, so I knew I had to try to correct things....if I could.

No worries!



I appreciate the enthusiasm!


Thanks to both of you ladies!


Manon said...

I'm the last one to give advise here! Incase you haven't noticed..... i put a ton of blue in each of my!
I actually like what you did here! Don't look for perfection. Paint what you feel!

Dean Grey said...


Your ladies are AWESOME. The blue tint on the faces in your journal pages was kind of the look I was going for. It just didn't turn out quite the way I wanted!

Thanks for the insight!


Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

I liked it as a black and white drawing! Is it watercolor? You can paint over, maybe with guache? Otherwise - put it away! Don't fret about every single painting coming out. They don't - not even for established painters. It had great points... and you will do another amazing painting! Flesh is hard, particularly with watercolor. You're funny... Jusin Timberlake... :D

Dean Grey said...


Yes, it's watercolor. I'm going to give gouache a try and take it from there.

You're right. Not every painting will turn out. I'm just hoping this one will!