My Teenager

My Teenager

A real good'un Thea - great expression.

You don't say how old he is Thea! Teenagers these days or even when my son was one which is a good while ago, very stroppy!! He looks lovely here and am guessing from your write up on it, it's a typical grandmothers observation of grandchildren but all the lovelier for that, the way you have just concentrated on the main features of his face with a basic outline of his hair works really well in this portrait, it is a really lovely take on your grandson Thea, may have been quite a long time since you undertook any portraits but would not have guessed that from this one, it is super!

Thank you very much for your encouraging comments Michael and Ros. Ros, Oscar is 14 and he really is as I describe. Not stroppy, but very self contained and sensible. In fact, if he ever comes out with anything even remotely confrontational, we all stop in amazement! He might change as he gets older, but I doubt it as it just isn't him. With the hair, I fretted for a day about whether to totally put it in or not and in the end my desire to have the most concentration on the features won out and I just hinted at the hair. These are such difficult decisions and you just have to cross your fingers and hope that you get it right.

Very sensitive portrait Thea, your work is very distinctive and I knew it was one of yours without looking at the details.

Very nice portrait Thea! Unusually for you, you've just indicated his hair which works extremely well here as the bright, snowy light is coming from above and the whiteness is reflected on the side of his face and upper lip.. He looks like a kind sensitive boy, characteristics which you've caught. Also, his mouth and eyes are well painted. It's a winter portrait, you've somehow caught the feel of a happy chap enjoying the then snowy weather!!

Thank you very much Stephen and Louise for such nice comments. It is really good of you both to stop by and leave some feedback, which I really appreciate.

Lovely painting. I am sure Oscar will be happy with that!

Thank you very much, Gudrun. I know you do many wonderful portraits so I certainly value your nice comment.

Impression of a precious moment in time well captured, Thea.

A lovely portrait Thea.Good flesh tone on the right cheek,also you have been economical and not just filled in, which works well here.

Lovely sweet smile which seems to summon up and capture his gentle nature, - one to be proud of Thea.

Thank you so much Ruth. How are you - haven't seen you for ages. Hope you are well and painting away. Thank you very much David - glad to have your feedback - much appreciated - and finally, thanks very much, Debs, - you know how much I dote on Oscar and perhaps I have put that into the portrait?

A lovely expression Thea, I like this.

Hi Thea. As you can tell from the other comments, you have certainly produced a delicate portrait with a gentle feel to it and i join the others in saying "Well Done". However, I know you put a lot of thought into your paintings and welcome observations from others, so I have two for you. Firstly, if I fix my eyes on the small highlight on his left cheek (our right as we look at it) my eyes are drawn to the dark tone round the ear, or to the dark tone by his cheek. These two dark areas draw my eye away from the face. I think lots of artists use tonal contrast to draw viewers into their centre of interest whereas here I feel it draws me away. If they were lighter they would still define the face etc, but distract less from the delicate nature of the overall painting. Secondly, and this is just me thinking out loud as I know it is a complete contrast to your style, but....If you left this portrait completely unchanged and painted a very dark background around it, the portrait would really stand out and be a bold way to focus the viewer on the delicate painting. Kind regards

You were very courageous to try a 3/4 view - one which I always find problematic. Negative shapes are big so it's hard to judge distances from this angle, a situation that is exacerbated by the young person's smooth face (wrinkles are great signposts!). But you've got it all spot on Thea. Yes, I might have splodged in some upper hair, cooled the flesh tones round the edges (reflected off the blue anorak) and warmed up the eye zone (as Paul suggests). But the gaze is penetrating and personal: Oscar is 'somebody', not 'anybody'.

Thank you very much, Carole - very kind of you. Paul, thank you very much for your feedback. I am always interested in constructive comments and yours are always interesting and very welcome. I have to confess that I don't plan paintings but just go on gut instinct, so probably never get into trying to manipulate where the viewer looks. I know it isn't the right way to go but that is probably my inexperience showing. However, that said, I know what you mean about the highlight and the darker areas so will watch that in future. As for the background - tricky one for me as I am very ambivalent about them generally. I did want the unpainted part of the hair to merge into white paper and to close it down by surrounding it with a dark background makes me feel uneasy. I have a horror of shutting a painting down and giving it no space to 'breathe' and because of this I tend to want to leave a lot of white paper. I did try a few background colours on a piece of scrap paper and held them around the head and they just didn't work for me and detracted from how I wanted the portrait to look. I know that the accepted method of making a lighter area stand out is by putting a dark section behind it, but I break that rule constantly because something in me says that I shouldn't do that. As I said, I go on gut instinct rather than anything else. Thank you for taking the time to go into detail about the painting - it is so useful to find out how others perceive your work.

Thank you, Kim. A 3/4 view is indeed problematic - I think I have only done one before. Also, I hadn't done a portrait for quite a while and it is amazing how alien it felt tackling this one. Oscar's face is actually very difficult (I have painted it a few times before) as it has very smooth and flat planes and he has very regular features, all things that make it hard to latch onto one particular idiosyncrasy of the face to define character. I would love to be able to paint a portrait in your much bolder and more colourful style, but although I have tried a few times, I now realise that it is more important to paint from the heart and be true to yourself. What I like to go for in a portrait is the essence of that person and as I know Oscar so well, it is indeed his gaze and the curve of his mouth which answers back to me when I look at what I have painted. It is when I get this connection that I know a portrait is finished. Sometimes, it only takes one more brushstroke and you have got it, sometimes it eludes you. Such is the risky nature of watercolour portraiture!

Hi Thea, this is beautiful. I can see good naturedness and kindness and a bit of a twinkle in his eye - so hard to paint a portrait in watercolour, and you've done it with such a delicate restrained touch - lovely!

Lovely, beautiful, gentle... what could I say more than what the others have already said. You have such a soft touch with your watercolours Thea and they are always a delight to see.

Thank you very much Glennis, Caroline and Satu for your very kind comments which I so appreciate.

Another family heirloom Thea. Beautifully painted as always and such a lovely way of recording your grandsons journey from childhood into his teenage years and beyond.

Thank you very much, Val - very kind of you. I am actually getting quite a stack of paintings of my grandchildren and I have done another few of Oscar before this one. However, my days of painting him may be numbered as I bet he will object to my artistic efforts when he hits 16 or 17 lol!

I agree with you on the conscious planning part Thea: if I'm attracted to a subject I paint it straight off in the hope that what I found expressive and aesthetically satisfactory about it may surface in the final article. That includes lights, darks, contrasts, focal points... you name it!

Thank you very much Kim for once again providing valuable feedback. Having taken a step back from this portrait I can now see that I could have gone a lot further in making it more interesting for viewers. Perhaps I should have used more colours or been a lot more adventurous in my brush strokes, etc. As I have just said under your comment on my boat painting, I am really trying to find that sense of abandon in my painting, but it is proving elusive and my innate tidiness often wins the day. However, this is all a journey so it it as case of 'onwards and upwards' and if I keep trying I hope that I will get there in the end. I am going on a week long course with Charles Reid in early May and am very much hoping that this will launch me onto a less restrained path. Thank you for all your advice and help.

Hi Thea, just seen your lovely comment on my pastel pet portrait of the two Boxers, glad you liked it, I do like to make a real feature of the eyes in my pet portraits, and this breed does lend itself to using in this way with a super alert look, thanks again Thea

Glad to comment, Ros, and always nice to see interesting and inventive work on the gallery. Keep them coming....!

Hi Thea thanks so much for leaving such a lovely comment on my latest pet portrait of 'Jinty' pleading to get back inside, I was very happy to see how her eyes came out when I posted it and great to read that other people appreciated that as well

Hang on Studio Wall
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It's a good while since I have posted a portrait on the gallery so I am hopelessly out of practice I'm afraid. I took this photo of my now very grown up teenager grandson, Oscar, while we were out sledging in the recent snow. He is a gentle and very sweet boy and I hope I have managed to convey this in the whole look of his face. I do have to own up and admit that this is not a perfect likeness, but then I don't always aim for that as I am more interested in capturing the essence of the person (or that's my excuse and I am sticking to it lol!). Watercolour on Langton 200lbs.

About the Artist
Thea Cable

I am a watercolourist first and foremost as I love the qualities of the medium, its riskiness and unpredictability. I started painting about 8 years ago and it has now become an integral part of my life. Hopefully, I will continue to paint into my dotage as I am given to understand that you can…

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