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Donna Bar Peled
The Man in the Hat

oil on canvas
48″ x 60″


Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist

Lauryn Welch
Painter & Performance Artist

Artist Statement
“Since early on in my life, art has been an essential part of how I process events and come to terms with them. Over the years, I’ve explored various mediums – predominantly charcoal, pastel, ink, watercolor as well as clay and plaster to see how the various materials impact the outcome. Around 10 years ago, I began experimenting with oil paint and found myself quite overwhelmed. It was clear that the range of possibilities with this medium is endless, but being self-taught, I find it extremely challenging to determine when my paintings are finished and often feel at a loss not knowing to proceed.

People have always been the focus of my work. The person in this painting is someone very dear to me whom I’ve known for many years – we’ve been through a lot together but throughout our relationship has remained steadfast. Initially I made many charcoal sketches. As I began painting, it seemed like a good idea to assemble the paintings. I do question the cohesiveness of the work and whether or not the background helps or hinders its impact.

I’d like to learn more techniques to be able to achieve the ideas I have as well as perhaps to better identify what I am trying to achieve. The name of this piece is ‘The Man in the Hat’. While the ‘hats’ we wear may change, some things remain constant.” 

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Video Transcript

“I think it’s impressive that you’ve been able to so diligently stick with painting this series. Each painting looks very well-cared-for, you have a great handle of painting the face and of including an entire range of tones, that’s really good.

I think you should throw out your black and your titanium white though, and mix your neutrals with zinc white and different combinations of complementary colors. You can get a really rich black by mixing raw umber with ultramarine blue. Also, you might be interested in using an oil medium called Galkyd. Mix Galkyd with your paints and you can create very thin layers of paint that you can layer on top of each other so you can get that depth of different colors of the skin.

As far as the background goes, I would look at artists that are really different from you but still do portraiture, like perhaps Devan Shimoyama and Doron Langberg. They use both color and objects to inform their portraits. But you should be proud of the work that you’ve got here so far. You’ve such great subtlety in the expression on each of these portraits and I just fall into that. Well done!”

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3 responses on "Donna Bar Peled"

  1. Wow Donna this series looks amazing! I can see you’ve got a great handle on the medium, which is impressive since oil paint can be really difficult to control. What draws me in the most is the richness of the colors you used for the faces. They have such a large range of values, creating strong highlights and shadows that give a lot of depth to the portraits. I personally like the background because it’s so simple that it doesn’t take attention away from the main subject, but the tonal variety creates an atmospheric space instead of just a flat background.

    I think it would be great if you experiment by incorporating more colors into your paintings. For example, you can mix several cool hues to create shadows or add a tinge of warm colors to the highlights instead of just adding black or white. I love that the subject of the series is basically just the same man wearing different hats. I would love to see you keep going with this series and see what kinds hats you can further include.

  2. Hi Donna! I’m personally a huge fan of portraiture, so I loved checking out this series! Your play on the ‘wearing many hats’ idiom is clever and makes for excellent aesthetics. You did a great job at achieving a wide range of values in the face, which can be so tricky. Additionally, I’m a fan of the backgrounds where you brought in an architectural presence and a contrast between light and dark.

    In your artist statement you express your tendency to get overwhelmed with the options of oil painting and I completely empathize! I just started oil painting this year and it was a bit of a steep learning curve. Going forward, definitely try to take an even greater advantage of layering and mixing colors! Experimenting with an indirect painting approach could be a great way to explore this.

    Indirect painting is a more Classical technique that uses many transparent layers, called glazes, instead of one opaque coat of color. Start with an underpainting, which is a thicker base layer of earth colors that lays out the light and dark values, and then go from there. The transparency of each layer is achieved by mixing mediums with your paint, and each layer creates a lot of depth and luminosity with the way that it reflects and absorbs light. Just make sure that each layer is dry before you go in with the next glaze!

    A few good options of mediums to try when you’re getting starting are: Windsor Newton’s Liquin Original, or Gamblin’s Galkyd OR Gamsol. Every medium will have a unique effect on the paint’s drying time and each one will feel a bit different, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what you prefer! Rembrandt is the quintessential example of this technique if you’re looking for some visual inspiration.

    Overall, excellent job and thanks for sharing your work!! Good luck with all future oil painting endeavors.

  3. Hi Donna! This series blows me away. Something I find difficult myself with series is that quality often suffers for the sake of quantity, but you have done a stunning job with this set. I also love the choice of different hats for each, I feel like I want to get to know this mysterious hat man!

    Your portraits have such texture, and especially in the face, we see colors and shapes warping this way and that. You’ve achieved quite a malleable quality in his skin. If you’re interested in experimenting, you can try painting more portraits with oil bars, basically oil paint in stick form! You can read more about them in art prof’s ever-growing supplies encyclopedia.

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