Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tim Hetherington

Tim Hetherington was a famous war photographer and journalist. I say was because, sadly, he was killed in Libya by a mortar bomb on 20th April. He was also a filmmaker and one of his recent documentaries `Restrepo', about a US Army platoon in an especially dangerous area of Afghanistan, won awards.If you wish to learn more about him go to

Tim Hetherington

I happened to pick up this magazine when at my sisters recently. It struck me as a very evocative study which epitomizes the strain, pressures and danger that war correspondents/photographers, who do these dangerous jobs, are under.

 This was my setup in my study - a converted bedroom

I first of all I made a loose drawing,  as accurate as possible, with the help of a ruler. I did get the Variscaler out but didn't use it. This was to get the proportions right. I do portraits without them and am getting better at doing so but every little helps!

Stage 1 Eyes and Nose

As usual I started with the main features first, beginning as always with the eyes followed by the nose. My brush was the Isabey No 6 retractable. This brush, of which Jacksons sell two sizes ( I think that's all Isabey make), is very slim and pointed, much smaller in diameter than a normal 6. I find it excellent for this purpose. It is also good for small detail.

Stage 3 I completed the mouth and upper lip.

Tim Hetherington -Fontenay 16" x 12" Not

This required a different approach to my other portraits, one reason I tackled it. I used pan paints for the features and .put in some of the darker areas first with Manganese Violet (W & N PV16) heavily diluted. The basic mix then applied was my usual Cadmium Red Light/ Yellow Ochre  mix adding Cobalt or Cerulean Blue where I wished to darken it - round the eye sockets and eyebrows. I then used a toothbrush to spatter darker spots of either Manganese Violet or Burnt Umber to represent the dirt and grime. I also tapped the toothbrush onto the paper when holding diluted amounts of these colours.

Apart from the Isabey, brushes used were the Da Vinci Artissimo 44 No 2 and Rosemary Series 33 No 6.
As you can see from the photograph his face is surrounded by dark areas with no visible detail. I did not want to put a very dark wash all over but tried to create the sense of  him being in a war situation with all the attendant danger. Mostly cool colours Cerulean, Viridian (Rowney PG18) with  Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine, mixed partly on the paper for the dark hair. I added Cadmium Orange (Maimeri PO20) top right and over his left shoulder to suggest the colours of warfare. Overall I'm quite pleased with it. Comments welcome.

 Note Added 1/06/11: To avoid confusion and bearing in mind the comments from Mick and Yvonne (in an e-mail) I have changed the Stage 1 & 2 paintings so they are more accurate. They liked the very strong darks but they were inaccurate and did not represent the real studies correctly. Those now shown are actually a little lighter than the painting but are the nearest I can get. I frequently have trouble getting a fair representation of my paintings on here, probably due to faulty photography, and tinker about with the `auto correction' feature but it has misfired on this occasion. Food for thought for the future.


Mick Carney said...

Peter I'm really puzzled by what has happened to the wonderful rich dark value pigment (around nose and in eye socket) in the initial stage photographs that then seems to disappear in the final result. Is it down to the photography or some manipulation on the paper?

Peter Ward said...

It's the auto adjust feature Mick in Windows Live Photo Gallery. The final view in the more accurate one. I left it like that because the initial photos were on the light side.

Anonymous said...

Charles Reid's watercolour approach today is different than what it was 30 years ago. I quite like his 'Portrait Painting in Watercolour' book published long ago (by today's standards). A method described in that book and that particular way of painting is easier for many to go through carefully and learn (believe it or not, Charles uses glazes there too), than what Charles does and teaches today.

What I want to say, what he teaches today is the way *he* likes to paint today, but I doubt many people had an evolution of style he had (or painted for 30 years continuously in other words), to skip over certain stages of painting and planning process and do a more direct approach as he does it today.

That's one reason I have dismissed completely, in my own approach, going after anything big name watercolourists do today, and I go back in time, where everything about evolution of their style, and thus learning seriously required, is revealed. There I can find answers I need.

I'm also more interested in sketches half way done rather that finalised big pieces. We are able to understand Turner today not by analysing his completed, majestic work, but the multitude of unfinished sketches and studies which reveal 'the real thing' — the thought process and challenges.


Peter Ward said...

Quite right Thomas in that Charles Reid's style and tecnique has evolved over the last forty years (or is it longer). Many artists follow this path whether professional or amateur.
Art is a constantly moving thing and even in the short period I've known Charles he has made changes.
I like his approach but if you differ then so be it. That's the great thing about art.It is a very wide church and has room for everyone. Thanks for commenting.