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Revisit my "Least Favorite" Portrait Painting

Having resided in Singapore for more than 10 years, I have come to realize that portrait art doesn't receive much attention in this Asian country. During the past 2 years of exploring portrait painting, I've encountered a prevailing nonchalance towards this art form. While individuals may think it is "nice" to have a portrait of their own, there seems to be a common assumption that artists would provide their services for free.


As I devoted my free time to painting and gradually amassed a collection of artworks, a friend suggested that I should consider selling some of my artwork online. Reflecting on my collection, I contemplated which pieces to let go of. It dawned on me that selling portraits of other people might not garner much interest. Moreover, as I browsed through all my paintings, I realized I had some personal preferences and decided not to part with some of them.


Among my collection, there is one painting that stands out as the least expected piece for me to hold onto. It was created in January 2021, during my early days of self-taught painting. I remember working from a photo on my laptop, wrestling with the challenge of blending skin colors and capturing a true likeness.


Portrait Painting of Joaquin Phoenix

As you can see, my lack of knowledge in mixing skin tones led to an inaccurate resemblance.





Throughout the process, I diligently photographed each stage of the painting, making notes while continuously referencing the original photo. By placing them side by side, I ensured a quick and accurate identification of any issues to be corrected. I used a ruler to measure the face, wondering why the portrait wasn't turning out as expected.




Simultaneously, I experimented with exaggerated skin colors, thinking that they can be part of the creative elements. Trusting my instincts, I tackled all the challenges. However, the bright and dramatic blue and greenish hues failed to contribute to the overall tonal value of the face.


Initially, I didn't really want to share it with others when I first completed the artwork. Looking back now, I find the painting surprisingly amazing!


Why? Honestly, I can't pinpoint a specific reason. It feels enigmatic that I created this portrait. Despite its amateur nature, lacking refined skills and techniques, it's a piece that possesses a certain charm for me.


Portrait Painting by Sok Han

Though my progress photos exposes my initial lack of knowledge in creating a "proper" portrait painting, yet, they serve as a testament to my learning process, which began with vibrant colors that may seem illogical for skin tones.


I'd like to share a quote by Pablo Picasso:

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."


While I may not consider myself a fan of Picasso, I wholeheartedly agree with his statement.


As we progress and become more skilled in any art form, it is natural to shift our focus towards acquired techniques and skills, sometimes overlooking the power of our artistic instincts. Perhaps this stems from our concern about how others perceive our work, often through a narrow lens.


At the end of the day, painting with the simplicity and uninhibited creativity of a child is truly priceless.



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