100 Faces Portrait Challenge

2 of 100 Faces ~ 2023 Amber Manuel 12"x12" Oil on Canvas
2 of 100 Faces ~ 2023 Amber Manuel 12"x12" Oil on Canvas

Face by Face, one at a time. I’m posting this on my birthday! I’m 66 years old today. (Whoa!)

2 of 100 Faces ~ Amber Manuel ~ my niece.

Amber works in banking in Hammond Louisiana. I chose the reference for this portrait because of its unusual lighting and the endearing way the cat was nestled into her neck, not to mention the sweetness of Amber’s face. The blues in her skin tones suggest reflections from a TV or computer, and there is reflected light bouncing back from different directions. A comfortable evening tableau.

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Inspiration & Style

I follow British artist Jane French on Instagram, and she inspired me to start my own 100 Faces personal portrait challenge. French is an excellent portrait artist who works in a loose, alla prima style. Alla prima is the style I’ve evolved into using over the last couple of years. It means that the painting is done in one layer with multiple layers side-by-side, often in one sitting, rather than layering paint over paint over paint to create a surface texture. The term Alla Prima is often used interchangably with wet-on-wet, but to me wet-on-wet implies layering wet paint over wet paint which doesn’t work all that well in oils, at least not for me. I think of it more as side-by-side painting, wherein colors and values are lain beside other colors and values to convince the eye that it is looking at a blended hue. In French’s work the brush strokes remain separate and visible, and it’s really fascinating.

2023 is my Year of Portraits

Last year French undertook a 100 Heads portrait challenge. She painted 100 faces in 6 months. I was intrigued by this intensive practice, and ultimately decided to try it myself. I had already registered for Rosso Emerald Crimson‘s year-long mentorship in figure and potrait painting through Terracotta , and decided to throw this into the mix. French has a short course on Domestika, which I took while I was waiting for Rosso’s mentorship to begin.

I also have a book, Ron Turner’s Population. Turner has the most ridiculously yummy style, and I sit and look at the book a couple of times a week, just soaking up how he manages to recreate immediate emotions with his thick, lucious brush strokes on 12″x12″ sheets of glass.

These three artists were my inspiration for the project. British artists Rosso Crimson and Jane French, and American Artist, Ray Turner.

I started the series in February 2023. When will I finish? I recommend placing bets and giving the winnings to me!

My 100 Faces Process

It is very unlikely that I will finish my 100 Faces in 6 months like Jane French did with her 100 Heads. But that’s okay. That’s not the point. For me it’s about loosening up some of the rules I’ve learned over 62 years of putting marks on blank surfaces, and fine-tuning others.

The longer I’m drawn to look at a painting in an environment, the better it is. “Better” is a subjective term in art. There is no black or white, better or worse in art. There is only interest. If I glance at one painting and quickly move to the next one, that first painting wasn’t engaging enough in that moment, in that environment. This is different for different art admirers. For me, side-by-side brush strokes that blend when your eye takes them in keep me captivated. If I’m asking myself how Turner managed to get that slip of cool violet across the woman’s chin in the middle of a paint stroke that contained several other colors, and I just want to look closer and then step back, and tilt it to the side, and wish the original was in front of me, that’s good. And that’s the kind of work I want to do.

I knew from the past 2 years of working as an artist full time that the early months of the year are slow. I don’t get a lot of commissions this time of year, so it’s a good time to catch up on personal education and writing blog posts. The classes with Crimson and French are obviously the big educational pieces this year, but the portrait challenge will likely provide the lion’s share of the learning because I’ll be referencing what I learned from them and applying it to my paint as it goes onto my canvases.

I will be sharing my 100 Faces as they are completed both here and on my social media platforms. I hope you’ll stay tuned and ask me any questions you have about the process. I’m open to suggestions, too!

Commissions are open!

If you’re interested in a commission this year, please contact me! I love commissions and they are my bread and butter, so don’t hesitate to hit me up!

Onward and Upward,

Kellie Snider


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