Analysis of Delaney’s Self Portrait and my approach to mimic techniques.


Self Portrait, Beauford Delaney (Oil on canvas)

When I look at Beauford Delaney’s Self Portrait, it reminds me of the faceting techniques cubists used. There is this flatness in the painting, yet we are still aware that space and three-dimensionality is present.

The portrait contained dark linear lines that are not much organic but try to maintain geometric. The eyes and nose are emphasized because of the square and triangular shapes conveyed. The lines vary from thick and thin and the most interesting thing is that the obvious features like the eyes, lips, nose, and eyebrows are the features that are emphasized with black bold lines.

What I also found very intriguing was the use of color. The medium used helped Delaney create the beautiful overlapping greens, blues, browns, and yellows in the face. Although the colors overlap and seem to be irregular in pattern, Delaney seems to have been strategic because the face does not lose dimension.

Art Academy Chicago, Rory, Chicago Seminar 6-10, KFC, 270[1]

The different values of colors really help the viewer distinguish the lights and the darks of the face. There is contrast between the colors and the values used in the face in comparison to the rest of the painting. This contrast creates balance as we see the hat and the clothing being painted in a very bold way with lack of values. Not only this, but we see balance because red isn’t seen in the face but only a small amount on the nose and under one eye.

Nonetheless, this help create harmony and unity with the painting as a whole. Space is manipulated with simplicity. The painting’s background lacks in any kind of extra information therefore making the human figure itself the main focus of the work. The texture of the painting looks very soft due to the blending of the colors that resemble almost a water-like consistence. Some areas, however, seem to look rough in texture. The background of the painting looks rough because of the small brushstrokes one can see. The brushstrokes on the background, hat, and clothes are very different from those on the face. There is a lot more detailed movement on areas that are not the face. The brushstrokes are repetitive and obviously lacks using more than one color so this contributes to the roughness of the paintings texture. Overall, the composition is very proportionate and all of the space is used making the painting look complete and rhythmic.

Now this is my inspired piece I created:


Self Portrait, Luz Miranda (Oil on canvas)

When I was creating this piece, I kept in mind that the assignment was to pick three things I enjoyed about Delaney’s self portrait. The techniques I enjoyed and liked were: the distortion of the face, reminder of Picasso and cubism, combination and use of colors/medium, and the overlapping of those colors. So all of the time I was painting, I kept looking back to those “rules.”

My instructor made me change the painting because he observed that my piece had lots of potential. He insisted I pushed more into something that would be completly different than Delaney’s work. I clearly did not understand the assignment because I was thinking that the finished assignment had to be somewhat of a replica from the original piece. I would have changed the different of this piece drastically if I could have done anything I wanted.

I have had experience prior to this assignment with painting with colors and overlapping/experimenting with oil paint. So I believe I could have wow’d! the whole class showing them my true potential with colorful self portraits.

Overall, I enjoyed looking at Delaney’s Self Portrait and somewhat trying to mimic it. Of course, it is nothing alike! My painting includes much more emphasis of the neon looking colors, which is something different that I tried here.

I hope you enjoy my approach to mimic a masterpiece.

Be my guest in analyzing my self portrait.


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