“On The Face Of It”
Have you ever come across a subject, theme, or a period of time and wanted to know more about it? Does that interest turn into a hobby? Maybe that hobby turns into a borderline obsession or fascination? This growing interest can look different for lots people. Maybe for you it’s knowing more about true crime. You are scouring the internet late at night trying to solve an old cold case. Or, maybe you are into 90’s TV shows and have dedicated Pinterest boards to Friends and Boy Meets World.
For me, it happened in the usual way. I was in my art studio and I needed a fresh start. It had been at least 15 years since I graduated with a painting degree. In college I focused on abstract painting. I wanted to do something different and new. I started looking at old masters such as Rembrandt, VanEyck, and Vermeer. I was enamored with how they painted their portraits. They were experts at making their subjects glow. I had to know how they did it. I began to research and came across a technique of underpainting called grisaille. Grisaille is an underpainting technique. You begin with an underpainting of either greys or greens. Then you add thin layers of oil paint on top of the underpainting. I found this transformed the way I painted with oils.
If you look at my work, you may wonder, why did she choose random people? I wanted to paint in grisaille as much as possible. I began to find interesting photos of faces and then try my hand at grisaille. After I got the hang of it, I wanted to examine what makes portraits so compelling. I chose to paint a series of female knights because I wanted to convey the female form as strong and brave. I was also inspired by Ephesians 6:10-18 which talks about putting on the armor of God so that you can be ready for spiritual battle.
Just as I had a fascination with grisaille, I now want to know more about watercolor. I took an online class and I found that watercolor is really enjoyable when you know the basics. I began to make a painting a day and I found that it was so much faster to complete than oil painting. My first love is still oil paint, but I find the quickness and immediacy of watercolor makes it a close second. I began painting portraits in watercolor and then I branched out to animals because I wanted to learn how to create fur.
If you are looking for one cohesive theme throughout my work it would be this; I am and will always be enchanted by painting and the art of portraiture. Whether it’s created in the buttery textures of oil paint or in the fluid strokes of watercolor. ~Arianna Kirk
Arianna Kirk is an arts educator and currently working primarily in watercolor and acrylics.