Laughing at yourself while painting – paint like Amedeo Modigliani portrait

Laughing at yourself while painting – paint like Amedeo Modigliani portrait


I’m not very good at painting portraits, at least I have this internal idea. This time I take a different approach; called ‘laughing at yourself’. And by not taking it all too serious and document … … how I learn to paint like Amedeo Modigliani portrait. Just after this. Hi there, my name is Albert van der Zwart, welcome to Imperfect Paintings … … where it is all about improving your painting skills by looking at art, yourself and the world around you. Let me state this again: improve your painting skills by looking at art and yourself. This is my level of portrait painting, a Francis Bacon attempt, not good enough. A different approach is using a brush with a longer stick. I make it with bamboo and two pieces of masking tape to make it stable. I ones saw a picture of Henri Matisse and it looked interesting to try. Now let’s move the table. To get different results, I have to look at myself and use a different approach. A different brush, smiley happy socks … … and I am right handed but will use my left hand while I paint or sketch some portraits. This other way of working gets me in a playful mood and my normal control routine … … wired in my brain when I use my right hand, is bypassed. In fact I am entering unchartered territory. I also get curious without judging every move and line, it feels more like a fun challenge; … … can I really paint a portrait, starting this way? First something more about Amedeo Clemente Modigliani … … an Italian painter who lived from 1884-1920. He is famous for his portraits like these. I admire his artwork. At the same time I see strange things happening in his paintings. As if he wasn’t paying attention. And exactly these imperfections in his paintings I will use to paint my imperfect painting. Every time I look for help I will show you pieces from Modigliani portraits … … helping me to get one step further. I now have these portrait sketches and I will use the middle one to make a complete painting. A lot of Modigliani portraits have a colored background, like a wall without objects. I will keep it very simple because I want to focus on the portrait. I forgot to press record when I painted the background and also adjusted some lines. Above the head I used some opaque titanium white to mask some lines and I painted a chin. The skin tones range from dark to light. And I mixed this yellowish one. I will change it a little later on. The hair looks strange at the moment and I can’t figure out what the problem is. The lips of the women he painted all appear to look smaller than their noses. When I check it, my anatomy looks different and I’m not the only one in our family. Next issue, the eyes. They aren’t properly aligned and he very often painted the eyes … … without the white of the eyeball or a visible iris. I use a darker color, try out red, but that really looks strange. For the cloths I pick a simple black dress. The hair is still a problem. It makes me think of the mole in the wonderful children’s book by Werner Holtzwarth. And the answer is simple: more hair on the top of the head. What really is characteristic for Amedeo Modigliani portraits is the elongation. Everything in this one looks alright except the neck, it is too long. The open dress and the bars of the bed both even enforce this vertical strectching effect. It just looks a bit strange, just like this one where we enter a different aspect that fascinates me. This is a photograph of Jeanne Hebuterne where you clearly see, she hasn’t a very long neck. These are all paintings of her. Strangely they don’t look flattering. It is sad to know his paintings didn’t do well in his lifetime. But this painting of her was sold some years ago for $ 42 million. Back to my painting. So a longer neck is needed. While making the sketch I didn’t think of the elongation … … and just had fun with my experiment. Now I have to fix it. Oh and a that lighter nose looks better. Modigliani met Jeanne Hebuterne in 1917. They had their first child in the end of 1918. In 1920 he died and a few days later she died … … by jumping out of a window killing herself and her unborn second child. In a way his life reminds me of Vincent van Gogh … … who also died at young age and wasn’t successful during his life. I guess their paintings were ahead of time. I paint more light blue on the left and darker blue on the right. Eyebrows. I don’t have a very fine brush so I paint with what I have … … and will later partly paint over it with an opaque color of the face to create the thin lines I want. An empty battery and you miss a part. I clearly was in the process of painting and not thinking of the video. I gave her cheeks some color, finished the color of the nose … … made the eyes a little lighter, her lips more red and changed the eyebrows to thin lines. I looked for a second time at the backgrounds .. … and found out he sometimes used a different color to make it more interesting. The hair still isn’t right. So I look again and see different colors instead of one. On some of his paintings I saw this little piece of an ear, it breaks the dark plane of the hair. Some last changes on the contours, a bit darker or lighter … … to see if I can lift the head a little more from the background. I’m quite pleased with the result, it turned out better than I expected. Just by looking closely at the art of Modigliani I come closer to a portrait. By keeping the approach light hearted I stayed in a playful mood … … and kept my blocking judgements at arm’s length. Maybe this explanation is helpful to you too … … so you now have a way to start painting portraits. But I also noticed a ton of details in his work I didn’t use. I admire his artwork even more and maybe will start painting portraits more often. But still, painting an abstract portrait is way more easy for me. I can introduce you to a painter from the same period, he made it much easier for me. Click on the link and I will see you over there in the next video.

3 Comments

  • Jennifer 2726 says:

    1st to view and like!!! Really love your portrait. She looks like she closed her eyes while you were painting her. The blue color became her eyeshadow as if she's wearing make-up. Yeah,that's right. I see a principal of a university. Oooh,i'll call your artwork, "madam principal".
    Btw,congrats for increasing numbers of subscribers! I still remember that i am #543. Keep up the good work about unfamous abstract painters!!! I cant believe they are so many of them!! Thank you for introducing them to us!! 😊

  • Maryam Vossoughi says:

    I like it a lot🤙🏻

  • Ellen vd says:

    Bedankt voor deze leerzame les Albert! Dat was nog eens interessant…..en duidelijk uitgelegd!

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