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Barry Green Photography | all galleries >> Galleries >> Art versus Photography > 2010 BP Portrait Awards portrait 'iDeath' (220 x 170cm oil on canvas)
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October 2010 © Michal Ozibko (Czech)

2010 BP Portrait Awards portrait 'iDeath' (220 x 170cm oil on canvas)

Year 2010 and this painting inspires me to learn how to oil paint.

The painting titled 'iDeath', by Czech artist Michal Ozibko.
Ozibko's painting is of his university classmate called Jana aged 23 years. Ozibko posed her with iPod earphones to show how young people often appear closed off to the world. Ozibko and Jana were not close friends, perhaps allowing him the opportunity to create an unbiased persona. Although not voted outright winner by BP, this painting was voted winner by public vote at The National Portrait Gallery, London in 2010.

I voted Ozibko’s iDeath painting as winner too, however the title 'iDeath' did confuse me before doing research. Located on the far corner of a long gallery, it's size and brightly painted forehead grabbed my attention from the moment it was first sighted. Close up the viewer's eyes are level with the forehead giving a surreal feeling of itimacy. After reading the title I first wondered if the subject is alive or dead? Is the sitter wearing makeup? The artist has magnificently captured pure living beauty in every detail. My eyes wandered above and below the hairline forever and I returned to this painting 3 times before finally leaving the gallery with this amazing image challenging my photographic eye beyond imagination. Where is the synergy between photo and painting I wondered......and to answer this question I decided to study the old masters of oils.

The question I needed to answer was: What would I learn if I tried to paint in oils? I had never painted before, and could not draw people. Could I change the 'eye of a photographer' into the 'eye of a painter'? Here is my progress since Sept 2010 when I first bought paints, books and tried to copy iDeath as a learning project.

I started in earnest Jan 2011 based on free tutorials at and after buying "How To Paint Like The Old Masters" by Joseph Sheppard. I decided to follow the seven layer method and learn-as-I-go.

BELOW: Ink drawing on canvas with Imprimatura layer, 1st and 2nd Umbra layers.

Jan 2011

BELOW: 3rd Umbra layer including checks on symetry.

March 2011

BELOW: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dead layer. (great difficulty with nose)

June 2011

BELOW: 1st colourings commenced July 2011

Oct 2011 - (note: sadly in Jan 2013 I abandon this project.)

other sizes: small medium large original auto
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eunjoo 12-Jul-2011 12:18
Your last layer is progressing very well! Skin color looks very natural.
eunjoo 18-Jun-2011 13:34
Wa~ really very nice! I envy you.
eunjoo 20-May-2011 16:01
You're great! Really it's very nice. I know it is difficult to paint human faces.
I've never paint human faces in oil color.
Barry Green Photography16-May-2011 16:48
By May 2011 I am became to understand major differences between photography and art (painting). With photography, lighting is controlled to reveal or hide 3-dimensional forms of cheeks, nose, mouth, etc.

In the iDeath image light and dark as well as colour reveal 3-dimensional form.
Painting 3-dimesnional form of the human face using only dead layer (greyscale) was impossible in my opinion without deception.

Ozibko uses colour scales (warmth and tone) to define 3-dimensional shape. In addition, Ozibko added freckles to define personality.

The asian and caucasian faces have different colour (tone) gradients. Typically Asian faces have more monotone colouring and are perhaps more difficult to paint. Caucasion faces are noted for bands of red.

I wonder if the human eye+brain can also read infrared (temperature) gradients to interpret 3-dimensional details of the human face too!
eunjoo 29-Mar-2011 14:11
Wa~ Really you draw very well. Great!
eunjoo 05-Mar-2011 12:22
Your painting ability is developed so fast. I wonder future's your progress!
eunjoo 04-Feb-2011 03:32
Surprise! Really it's great progress!