Portraiture – “Look inside”


In this project, we were given the opportunity to depict anyone we wanted through the painting of a portrait, with the use of any medium such as oil or acrylic paint. The reason I decided to title this piece “Look Inside” because I want the viewers to look closely at one’s innermost feelings when viewing the piece. Most people have different minds, whether that is shown or hidden behind. Both these expressions, whether it is shown or hidden, in my opinion are hard for people to read. However, I think people can still obtain a base understanding of what they have in mind, even if they do not want to show it.

In my piece, I hope to show both the inner and outer feelings of the person that is close to me, in which is my mother. She is a person that I personally think is warm hearted but also cold at the same time. This is because even though she has the motherly affection, she does not seem to express it obviously. Often times my mother would attempt to only show her strong personality to me, but I know that it is because she is trying hard to be a great mother.

This piece leads to the guiding question of “How can we represent the intangible in portrait.” I wanted to show the intangible in the portrait by using the colour scheme. Firstly, the general mood of my painting is the warmth of my mother. I intentionally placed the warm colour scheme, on the negative space, to create a cozy intangible feeling of my mother, and the flower pattern in the background also further emphasizes on this feeling. I specifically wanted to add the things she liked to the piece, which are flowers. Adding on, the composition of the flower also creates a flow at the back. On the other hand, the cool colour scheme is mostly used on the portrait, which is used to show the contrast between the warm and cold feeling. Within the different combinations of the colours, I had generally used analogous and split-complementary colour scheme. Firstly, analogous creates a natural flow of the colour scheme, as each colour are linked together, such as yellow, green, some blue and purple. Secondly, split-complementary uses two colours adjacent to its complementary colour, besides the base colour. Overall, this creates the same strong visual contrast but with less tension than the complementary colour scheme.

Before starting the project, we proceeded multiple media testing, such as trying various style of textures, colour scheme, and materials. During media testing, I was able to explore and familiarize myself with both oil and acrylic paint. For me, this was the first time working with both acrylic or oil painting, so I decided to use this chance to help me determine which medium would be more suitable for my portrait. From media testing, I was able to get a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the mediums.

In the end, since I am a beginner at painting, I decided that the medium more suitable for this piece of work would be acrylic. This is because acrylic paint can be easily edited as the paint dries very quickly, giving me a lot of time to make changes to the piece. Also, as it dries quickly it will make the process faster, which cannot be done by oil paint. Lastly, I wanted the texture of a brush stroke shown in my work, which I feel oil paint cannot produce as well.

When thinking about the materials, I was originally thinking about using a palette knife to create a stiffer texture to the piece, but at last I decided to use a paint brush instead. This is because with the utilization of a paint brush I can create both smooth and textured brushstrokes, further emphasizing on the contrasting idea I want to present. Moreover, the choice of using a paint brush was also influenced by a few artists, and especially from Anna Bocek. In Anna Bocek’s work, the unique style of the strokes of the brush shown and the fluorescence color scheme was very attractive. Likewise, I was also attracted to Jen Mann’s painting because the composition and the feeling of the facial expression was very intriguing. Therefore, in my work I attempted to borrow the rough and unsmooth style of texture from Anna Bosck’s paintings and the compositions of Jen Mann’s paintings.



Final piece of this studio work was somehow similar to what I envisioned but also different in some perspectives. The composition and the general mood that was being conveyed haven’t altered, but the overall color scheme and the texture it developed have changed. Through the process of crafting my work, numerous challenges were inevitable. I had to encounter not only deciding on the color scheme and texture, but also selecting the appropriate media.

In my final plan, to both appropriately and significantly express my theme, I planned to use monochromatic colors for the skin and complementary colors for areas of highlight. As working on my project, however, I realized the use of monochromatic colors weren’t a good fit for coloring the skin since the color was too pure. Not only the monochromatic color, but also the use of complementary colors wasn’t successful at highlighting the shadows and highlights of the painting. The rough texture I was envisioning was also not visible in my art. Furthermore, my initial idea of using a palette knife was altered due to the inspiration from a painter Anna Bocek, who uses a flat brush for her artworks. From using a brush, I tend to strongly visualize the texture of the brush strokes in my painting. However, the use of the flat brush wasn’t creating the texture, yet blending the paint more smoothly. This problem made me consider rather I should just use oil painting to fully blend all the colors together or stay with my initial idea of creating the texture of the brush strokes with using acrylic painting. At the end, I decided to not alter my mind and stay with creating the stiff texture with acrylic paint.

To overcome these inevitable problems, it took me countless of trials. Also in the process of crafting I even decided to do some media testing with the opinions of others that were suggested. Through this media testing, I was able to gain the knowledge of how these media works and that it gave me confidence of finishing.