February 3, 2016

Charles Bukowski - freehand airbrush portrait

I never read novels, except a few written by Bukowski. His life, for the greater part, has been a struggle - abusive father, severe acne, alcoholism, arrest by the FBI (on suspicion of draft evasion), death of a lover, shitty jobs, publishers that failed to recognize his talent as a writer and poet, divorce and leukemia (which killed him), basically all the type of crap that makes life thoroughly miserable. In some cases that results in interesting facial characteristics, a challenge to airbrush artists.

Newest phase on top, oldest at the bottom. Below the latter is some more text.

Update March 7 2021

Four years after I sprayed this portrait with an airbrush, an Iwata HP-BH airbrush gun and Inspire H2O paint on paper, I digitally reworked it in Affinity Photo. Bukowski had a nicely twisted mind, resulting from the life he was cast into on this planet, that drove him to write hard hitting, strange books and thereby gaining a considerable following of people that probably had strange aspects to their personality as well. Which they carefully hid of course in an attempt to inconspicuously participate in the imposing human society in this dimension.

Affinity Photo has all the tools to allow to apply subtle details to any image that take it to a more elevated level. Artists that got familiar with this type of functionality appreciate the efforts of the developers, who most likely are artists themselves, given the perceptive properties of the program's features.

August 21 2021 - Colour overlay
added in Affinity Photo

August 21 2021 - Halftone filter
added in Affinity Photo

August 21 2021 - digitally edited
in Affinity Photo

March 7 2021 - digitally edited
in Affinity Photo

Feb 10 2016 12:00 finished

Feb 8 2016 12:00
Almost done. Charles Bukowski freehand airbrush
portrait. Only white highlights on skin and hair (this
will reveal how well Inspire H2O Base White works)

Feb 7 2016 20:30

Feb 6 2016 12:30

Feb 5 2016 23:00

Feb 5 2016 17:00

Feb 5 2016 15:00

Feb 4 2016 16:30

Feb 3 2016 21:00

Feb 3 2016 18:00

Feb 3 2016 14:00

Learned a lot while making this portrait. Diluted the paint as follows: Inspire H20 : reducer = 1 : 6. But in order to avoid having to spray with white too much (highlights and hairs) it will have to be diluted even more. This makes it necessary to spray more layers, which will take more time, but also give the painting more depth while allowing me more control over the intensity of areas and lines. I asked the mega talented Italian airbrush artist Luca Roccaforte once how he (and Alberto) sprayed the fine hairs in a fur and he told me they spray around it... It requires a lot of focus, control and time (patience), but it probably is the only way to avoid spraying the highlights and hairs with white over previously sprayed colors in order to prevent the infamous and irritating blue hue.

The paint I used (obviously) is Inspire H2O, the airbrush Iwata HP-BH and paper Van Beek Retouche paper - image size just under 30 x 30 cm. It would be a lot easier to spray a larger image, but there's no challenge in that. Also using solvent based paint would allow spraying of finer lines and less clogging, but it's not recommended for indoor use.

Photographs are shot with Samsung S4 Mini cellphone cam. It explains the low quality of the images. There is a noticeable difference between photos shot in daylight and in artificial light. All the different settings in Samsung's standard cam app and an app called 'A better camera' were unable to produce decent photos.

A note on the dreaded blue hue when spraying with white on top of previously applied colors
Spray around the hairs as Luca explained as much as possible. Accurate spraying of the shadows on and below hairs, minimizes the covering of white over other colors. Things go wrong when the white fades on its edges. When spraying crisp, hard edged white lines, the result is not too bad. Spraying with white as a final process does give the extra accent that makes paintings (especially portraits) stand out. Inspire's H2O is the best I've encountered so far. Mix ratio paint : reducer = 1 : 3 Clean the brush often; the white has powerful adhesive qualities and opacity while allowing to spray ultra fine lines (provided it is cleaned properly and often). To clean the airbrush I used an environmentally friendly organic type cleaner - ASA airbrush cleaner (500cc) from Airbrush Services Almere.

And finally a nice quote from Mr. Bukowski. Those who have more than two properly functioning brain cells should think about his words real f*cking hard: