Portraits of Character.

Aine Divine uses a variety of media and techniques to produce her expressive portraits.

Painting and drawing the figure is something that brings me great pleasure. I am always drawn to new ways of representing the models before me, and love to push the boundaries of what I'm comfortable with. To this end I have used all kinds of materials and experiment all the time with new ways of applying them, to help me more efficiently and succinctly get across what it is I want to express about an individual subject. Here are some examples of my mixed-media works and how I go about making them.


Veronica, oil, 10X7in (25.5X18cm).

I think this shows that less is more. I took my time over the drawing, regularly standing back to assess what I had done. I used oil paint, so the drawing remained intact. I like how the cerulean blue provides a backdrop for the face, helping to enhance the subtle tones in the skin. The model sat very still and had a certain composure that I think comes across in the painting.


Saras in Orange, mixed media, 20X30in (51X76cm).

I chose only to emphasise certain accents of colour in the clothing, resisting the temptation to block it all in. I like using collage for this as it is a very definite thing, you need to carefully select where the emphasis will lie but then you see the effect immediately, and there's no fiddling about with a brush. I described only the orange highlights on the jacket where the light fell. I like the contrast here between the thick oil paint in her skin and hair, the bright bits of collaged paper, and the thin line describing the form of the figure. I resisted drawing in the chair legs as I liked the diagonal flow of the composition, and felt there was enough information to describe the gesture of the seated girl.

For these exercises you will need:

  • Talens gesso primer.
  • Pebeo modelling relief paste.
  • Mount board; sometimes I buy hardboard from my local DIY store, where they cut it to size for a small fee.
  • Daler-Rowney System 3 Acrylics: crimson red; cadmium red; viridian; ultramarine blue; cadmium yellow; lemon yellow; cerulean blue and white.
  • Daler-Rowney Artists' Oil Colour, in the same colours as the acrylics, plus zinc white.
  • Talens Ecoline black liquid watercolour which comes in a 990ml bottle. I apply it with a stick, shaped with craft knife. I use tubes of Daler-Rowney oil colour, in the same colour as acrylics except that I also use zinc white and lemon yellow.
  • Brushes are standard flat brushes suitable for use with acrylic and oil and are no smaller than size 10. I also use ordinary household brushes, palette knives and rags to apply paint, and a large flat soft bristle brush for the primer.

Pebeo, Talens and Daler-Rowney products are available from Great Art, telephone 08433 571 572. www.greatart.co.uk