posted on December 4, 2007 at 7:30 am

been painting some portraits
tricky business
the angles
the planes
the ratios
the shadows
the proportions
faces defy all rules you thought you knew about faces
sometimes you can get it horribly wrong
and it still kinda looks like the subject
othertimes one small thing you cant figure out
and the face looks ridiculous
i’m doing a straightforward face but its hard to get it right
then after days of mucking about
it looks alright in pencil
but when the colour goes in
its gone all wrong
luckily pastel is a very forgiving medium
edges can get moved if they have to
but beware
you make the eyes a little bigger
suddenly the nose is too small
then the cheekbones have lost their reference point
and the mouth is too close
and the chin too far away
the slightest change is a ripple
that flows through the entire painting
trying to figure out what colour a shadow really is
trying to be artistic and realistic
trying to flatter the subject
emphasise the good points
portray the bad because you must
but tone it down
teeth are hard to get right
eyes are obviously important
and a slightly wrong shaped eye can ruin it
noses are surprisingly often shorter than they appear
sometimes your staring at a feature
but you just refuse to draw it the way it is
sometimes i just go into a geometric mode
wherein i see the face as a series of related shapes
it can be frustrating and rewarding
my next portrait will be david mccomb for a planned book
this one i can really go to town on
and im looking forward to it
thats it for today

46 Responses to “a poor trait”

  1. avatar
    steve kilbey | 4 December 2007 at 7:58 am #

    dear commenters
    we are being infested with a serious idiot
    i deleted some of his inane dribble
    but as i suspected
    this inspired his feeble mind
    to strike again
    he specialises in childish scatalogical tripe
    please disregard him
    just like one mustnt scratch a pimple
    i suggest we let it come to a head
    let it burst and dry out
    the idiot will try and antagonise us now
    treat him with sympathy and compassion
    he is after all an idiot
    and the only way he has
    of making any impact in this world
    is parasitically spew pathetic tripe
    onto someone elses thing
    you will recognise the idiot by his use of
    words and names he thinks will shock and awe us
    but he is a sad little parrot spouting bilge
    of which he knows nothing
    ignore him
    and soon he’ll go away
    the mngemnt

  2. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 8:28 am #

    david mccomb was a great singer and extremely charismatic on stage. hope you succeed in painting him (is pastel painting?) and i hope that it will be available as a print. some great blogs recently mr k.

  3. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 9:05 am #

    Well, I asked all about your art a while back and blah, no response. So blah, no comment.
    Fair’s fair, Steven.

  4. avatar
    craig1.618 | 4 December 2007 at 9:49 am #

    “sometimes i just go into a geometric mode
    wherein i see the face as a series of related shapes”

    me too……..faces and just about everything else

  5. avatar
    blackeyes | 4 December 2007 at 10:30 am #

    but what the matter about the shapes…? you are drawing their hearts.

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 10:34 am #

    sounds tricky sk! portraiture IS tricky!the only few times i attempted that a disciplined form of art,they turned out quite okay,but ,way too much colour for the subject’s style!hahaha!,but dont all shadows have tones of purple green,blue,and red?…they did to me!!..hmmm…my only advice is?forget about what you “think”it should look like,and paint what you “feel that you can see”…heehee!painting tips and street directions,and “incredible knife throwing act,including sighted woman spinning on wheel”,supplied by gens house of what the?”…a lovely night to you ALL!,as always,gen xxxxx

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 10:39 am #

    or could it be that your just no good at it?

    i’ve lloked at the gallery thing eek flogs and honestly, most of them are pretty basic yr 9 standard. it’s great you enjoy it though and thats the main thing.

  8. avatar
    steve kilbey | 4 December 2007 at 10:48 am #

    ooooh that smarts

  9. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 10:49 am #

    still cant forget the moment that i was shocked when i found your paintings, steven.
    really like the feeling in them.
    The Man with the Child in His Eyes, that’s you. keep it, and you’ll be always at your 16.

    your big fan.

  10. avatar
    Melissa | 4 December 2007 at 10:52 am #

    i know I shouldn’t really care, but that’s a rotten thing to say ‘anonymous’

  11. avatar
    Melissa | 4 December 2007 at 10:54 am #

    @ 9.39 I mean

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 11:02 am #

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


  13. avatar
    veleska1970 | 4 December 2007 at 11:09 am #

    oh, i remember them days from my art classes at university. the human form is indeed EXTREMELY difficult to draw/paint/sketch/etc., with any medium. one line just a hair off can make a shoulder look dislocated, or a nose appear to be smashed in with a brick, etc. and shading is very tricky, too, more difficult than the actual drawing. i always had a little trouble with perspective~~especially foreshortening.

    but from what i’ve seen of your work, you do quite well, steve. and genx is right~~just “feel” it.

    lotza love….

  14. avatar
    veleska1970 | 4 December 2007 at 11:14 am #

    oh, about the “sad little parrot”~~is he/she still around? i hadn’t noticed. i’ve been ignoring him/her for months. just as i said the other day.

  15. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 11:41 am #

    There was a guy who painted self portraits on a bridge in Prague.
    He had a mirror contraption attached to his shoulder so he could paint his face whatever angle he pleased.
    Whenever I saw him he was pulling a crazy faced, tongue out devil impersonation.
    He did a good job at capturing his likeness from every aspect.

  16. avatar
    Altres | 4 December 2007 at 12:24 pm #

    Steve, drawing the human form is the single most difficult thing to do in art. Every individual has their own unique set of criteria to consider and deal with and that is simply on a structural level. You put colour in too, which adds a whole new dimension of difficulty and increases the chances of things going wrong exponentially. I always tended to stick to Conté crayons and just use greyscale to capture how the light interacts with the subject. Colour was just so difficult.

    One of these days I’m going to buy or commission a painting from you. The minute I clear some of the chasm of debt I accrued from installing a kitchen and bathroom. LOL

    If you ever do Syd Barrett, I’m right there. Don’t say I missed him?


  17. avatar
    fantasticandy | 4 December 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    to be honest, they are a bit variable…..
    the good stuff IS!
    and the not-so good stuff?
    still pretty good.
    andy L.

  18. avatar
    microfiishthetrap | 4 December 2007 at 12:50 pm #

    welcome to painting!!

    better than Van Gough

    I got three ears



  19. avatar
    attmaivnosd | 4 December 2007 at 12:52 pm #

    yes that is a code

  20. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 12:55 pm #


  21. avatar
    PANTHERWACK | 4 December 2007 at 12:56 pm #

    GO ON…………

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 12:58 pm #

    I can’t draw, paint, sculpt nor nowt. I can, however, kick ass pretty well. Trouble is I don’t want to – seriously, I’ve always wanted to be artistic, creative, etc. But I was born to be a shitkicker. Cruel trick, I sez.

  23. avatar
    Owl | 4 December 2007 at 1:12 pm #

    Excuse me SK,
    but where to you rate Zappa in the pantheon?
    I guess you loath him.
    Can you give him any points for his satirical lyrics, humour and uncompromising attitude to life and art?

  24. avatar
    Anonymous | 4 December 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    self portrait 1981

    sk as a thunderbird

  25. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 4 December 2007 at 3:07 pm #

    SK is a jack of many trades and he also happens to be a master of all of them while concurrently raising a family.

    As for me I’m wild and lonely that’s why I still periodically listen to Morrissey. I do have an on again mostly off again girlfriend whose a fricken Republican!

    SK and JB rock my world.

    Americans must please consider OBama for President. He would give AL Gore tremendous power in his administration. US national security experts have verified that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in late 2002/early 2003. W and Cheney lied again!!!!!!!

  26. avatar
    MEM | 4 December 2007 at 3:08 pm #


    here’s the advise. you can never be too loose.

    that’s what i tell my students (i am after all, a part time life-drawing instructor)

    you have the gift. don’t let any fool dissuade you.

    i have Vishnu, Jesus, and Rimbaud taped to my bedroom wall.

    the volume and range of your work is enough to counter your critics.

    i know art. i know what i want out of my own process.

    don’t be afraid to get messy. make it a mess. a controlled mess. then loose the control.

    the best advise given to me was as follows:

    “you can never take a piece of art too far. never be afraid to take it further. it is the only way to know when you truly have it. when a work is done”


  27. avatar
    basic morality | 4 December 2007 at 4:09 pm #

    never fuck a right-winger. Ever.

  28. avatar
    Cee | 4 December 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m all about the abstract, when I attempted portraiture, caricatures were achieved at best.

  29. avatar
    Gareth,Notts | 4 December 2007 at 5:28 pm #

    spot on right ther Steve!….i do facial portaits and they are painstaking to get right,i draw the features in pencil first,to get em right,then do the whole thing in ink,biro pen to be exact!after that first nightmare part,the rest is easy,n they look like the photographs they are taken from!!!!

  30. avatar
    davem | 4 December 2007 at 8:18 pm #

    Dear TTB,
    I can’t tell a paintbrush from a spanner, but I like much of the stuff you produce.
    I’m a kindrid spirit to Brian Altres’ debt mountain so have only extended as far as a couple of prints. I think Brien C should pawn some of his excess Tangerine Dream CD’s and commission an original to be shared amongst TTB fiends….
    Evening all.

  31. avatar
    JONNY NOT YET SO HOLLYWOODISH | 4 December 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    wishing you were painting ‘a’ portrait of me and me lady, you know what we behold…
    The Jesus & Mary Chain

  32. avatar
    fantasticandy | 4 December 2007 at 8:54 pm #

    i’d have loved ya to have done the album art for us…but getting it all together has rendered us totally skint.
    sorry killer!
    andy L.

  33. avatar
    the dean | 4 December 2007 at 8:57 pm #

    the super 8 footage of the triffids from in the vines session has a certain beauty in muted colour within a stark landscape.

  34. avatar
    nickfiction | 4 December 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    I have recently rehung my (2) proudly owned sk paintings in my main living area. looks quite nice. By the way sk you asked me in cleveland which one it was i procured. one is called ” shadow of doubt ” the other was acquired off ebay entitled ” japanese spring ” – NF

  35. avatar
    steve kilbey | 4 December 2007 at 9:29 pm #

    oh mr fiction
    with your energy drinks
    and japanese spring…

  36. avatar
    Richard (who hasn't met dubbya) | 4 December 2007 at 10:34 pm #

    David McComb will be a challenge

    so much dark and so much light

  37. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 4 December 2007 at 10:57 pm #

    Time for a somewhat pertiment comment from “Bigmouuth Strikes Again”- that being eye.

    Christy Brown the late Irish Poet whose life was loosely depicted in “My Left Foot”. He was completely incapicitated by Cerebral palsey. He could only utilize his left foot. He was a competent painter and a brilliant poet. He used his adroit left food to open-up Whiskey bottles and drink like a fish. His mysterious death was purportedly the result of chocking on meat. His collected poems were and are wondrous. He overcame all odds but needed drink for sedation, elation and emancipation from his restricted and constricted lifestyle.

  38. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 4 December 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    “a somewhat PERTINENT COMMENT!

  39. avatar
    One Man Dog | 4 December 2007 at 11:01 pm #

    Hi all,

    I have noted this ‘serious idiots’
    entries and he/she/it seems to use bizzare stream of consiousness titles. And yes let us not provoke him, for like any child he thrives on response. From his entries I can surmise that he seems harmless (so far) but he is cluttering up the comments section, preventing others from making serious contributions.

    But back to my comment from yesterday, I was wondering Steve if you have ever written a novella or novel. I think you should get in print. I have been working on my “great Australian Novel” for the past 10 years, it have evolved from occultish beginings into a road book with witches thrown in for good measure. Anyway thanks for your time and I awaite SK’s first publication.



  40. avatar
    steve kilbey | 4 December 2007 at 11:26 pm #

    i started a book
    but i never finished
    thyen i lost the manuscript..
    kilbees great lost masta-peece

  41. avatar
    THesis on fAECEL mATTer farewell for eva eva no more no more this is it goodbye. | 5 December 2007 at 12:02 am #

    ogge y wii woo woo boo,

    i sorrry mr K,. I dun not mean to offended youse. Butts me have no outlet for me idiocy. member dat monty python sang da song ” how sweet to be an idiot'” Well its pretty sweet, but we get persicuteyed by the thems with da smarts…… Maybe cause they have yet to found their inner idiot!

    All i can say is watch Lars Von Triers Dogma 95 Manifesto called-The Idiots and then you may get my jist.

    But i will leave youse all now and go and eat a mudcake with elephantitis juice.

    I never done meant to awe or shock anyone, i so sad for my silly billies behaviour. I never said nasty dirty things to people. i only tried to done goooooder, and irritate peoples, cause dats da job of an idiot and i aint as serious an idiot as salman rushdie or Eddy Bickel or even Rasputin da mad monkey moniker. But this is my last comment so I wish all da bloggy bloggs and Mr Steve K. da magnificent a fond farewell.

    Ps. Tanks for tolerating me for so long, and by da way to that try hard One man BOghead- Iam not an it i ams a peice of Human entrails littering the lavatory walls of hells infinite domain.

    Bye Bye Bye BIrdie For eva,

    Mr. Cohen.

  42. avatar
    I'm still laughing | 5 December 2007 at 12:15 am #

    a bit like robert plant
    the hair of a sixteen year old girl
    and the face of 100 year old debauchee



  43. avatar
    Anonymous | 5 December 2007 at 12:41 am #

    Robert Plant is 60 next year.

    I’d say he’s doing ok.

  44. avatar
    steve kilbey | 5 December 2007 at 1:54 am #

    i prefer rubber plant

  45. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 5 December 2007 at 2:00 am #

    Sorry Sk: Now I am in contact with reality (sort of). My favorite painters and artists who are also lead vocalists are.
    1) Steven Kilbey
    2) Annie Haslam(former Renaissance vocalist).
    3) Mae Moore: Not prolific but very good. SK produced her best CD.

    Kilbey and Haslam have some very spiritual gems. My brain is not exactly a work of art. It’s “Fried” Mr. Julian Cope!!

  46. avatar
    eek | 5 December 2007 at 1:22 pm #

    You have a way of capturing a certain vitality of the subject in your portraits. It’s a skill I’ve noticed some even very technically talented portrait artists can’t master and it’s what gives your pieces that special spark.

    Plus everyone looks just a little cooler in your portraits. 🙂

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