Anne Blankson-Hemans 1st Sept 2023
Portrait in Oils
Anne is a multi-award winning artist. She got 5/6 of the way through the BBC's 'Big Painting Challenge' - an impressive feat - and was in the 2022 Sky Arts Challenge. She exhibits her work on a regular basis at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London and with the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), and the Society of Women Artists (SWA) and has also had her work exhibited in various other shows.
Anne came from Ghana in 1984 and worked in IT for 20 years before moving to the Lake District in 2020 to focus on her painting. Her work is mostly figurative and she loves the bright colours, bustle and noise of her upbringing.
Her subject for an oil portrait was Steve Fletcher, famed watch repairer from TV's The Repair Shop wearing his trademark 'pair of pairs of glasses'.
She uses the Jackson's App, Artgrid [which is free] to apply a light grid to the reference photo and then transfers grid contents to her portrait. She finds that a grid helps both with accuracy and with capturing character.
Reference photo on Anne's tablet.
Anne began with a pre-prepared light monochrome sketch of Steve using a burnt umber wash and, working from light to dark, began to model the three-dimensionality of the subject.
Although they are more expensive, her favourite colours are Michael Harding oils because they are high in pigment. She used warm white, lead tin yellow light, Naples yellow, yellow ochre, venetian red, alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue.
To get the darkest colour she mixes the red, crimson and blue and start in the dark areas under ach eye and the nose. The next level of shade comes from a mix of yellow ochre and venetian red.
The slideshow shows stages along the way.
The eyes are a particularly important latter stage, imparting the life to a face through the detail of the eyes themselves and then the added glint of light.
The whites are not actually white but more a blend of yellow-white and yellow ochre. The blue irises were a mix of untramarine, white, alizarin crimson and venetian red that combine to create the appropriate blue-grey.
Anne uses both a small brush and a mahl stick to achieve the accuracy and detail for this important stage.
And a finishing touch is a suggestion of five o'clock shadow with a mix of viridian and yellow ochre [or alternatively blue and alizarin crimson.
Anne uses linseed oil to clean her brushes, bought in a largish container at e.g B&Q.
And those expensive high pigment paints? Too good to waste! Unused dollops go into pillboxes destined for the freezer where they remain soft, usable and ready to go.