Self Portrait #8 (after Marlene Dumas)

Sp 8 comp

I’ve been looking at and admiring Dumas’ watercolors for awhile, and I finally got some books out of the library to explore in more detail.  One in particular, “Wet Dreams”, describes her technique:  very large wet paper, and she paints on the floor, moving the paper around so the paint moves in the water.  She also works exclusively from secondhand materials: photos and reproductions.  So I thought I would work from photos I had from my childhood.

sp 8 comp color

The largest watercolor paper I had was 10 x 14, which I used it for a color attempt.  I’ve never tried painting wet-on-wet, and it’s something I’ll have to get used to.

sp 8 blk comp

I then bought an 18 x 24 pad, although even that size is still small compared to Dumas’ giant heads.  She does a lot of her work in black ink and wash, so I made a second attempt with that on the larger paper.  It’s difficult for me to work on a head that large, plus I think I started out with the paper way too wet.  “Interesting” is my conclusion at the result.

sp #8 sm lg s

Neither one looks like my baby picture.  But being as I’m in the standard Gerber Baby pose, I suppose it doesn’t matter all that much, especially since Dumas is less concerned with reproduction than interpretation, and she says she works big so she can make “big mistakes” rather than small ones.

And now that I’ve seen a fuller range of her painting, I have more to work with for my other childhood photos.

You can see all my self portraits in this series here.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel

19 responses to “Self Portrait #8 (after Marlene Dumas)”

  1. Jodi says :

    These are great. Wet in wet faces. What a challenge. I admire it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash) says :

    These are great!!! 💕Working big still scares me a bit, but I love the idea of doing it to make “big mistakes not small ones” love that you took on the challenge and wonderful results all around!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon Mann says :

    Baby faces are always difficult to paint. With minimal strokes you captured a a very sweet portrait.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Teresa Robeson says :

    Love! Really, I love both your work and the talking us through how you produced your work…the thought processes and the actual drawing/painting. I enjoy working large when I have time (18×24″ is the size that I like). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Catherine Johnson says :

    They are brilliant! Thanks for sharing the Dumas process.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael Richards (certainline) says :

    I saw the big Dumas exhibition at the Tate Modern a couple of years ago and was a little disappointed. These are excellent, though: you’ve really taken what’s impressive about her work and made it your own in these pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Michael. I’ve never actually seen her work, but always been intrigued by it. There’s often a disconnect between a reproduction and the work for me, sometimes for better and sometimes not, or sometimes…just different.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. artandmoondreams says :

    Love what you have done here and enjoyed reading about the process. The fluid collaboration with wet-into-wet painting is always exciting to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. M. L. Kappa says :

    Very interesting technique. Must try it

    Liked by 1 person

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