“David Bowie and Nebula”

Markers on Butter paper | 29.7 cm x 21 cm | 2021

Client: Personal
Date: 2021

01. Background

“Expressionism is an artistic style that depict subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person.”

– From Brittanica

Despite being bad at drawing portraits, I am often drawn to expressionist portraits. Firstly, I like portraits because I like observing the gaze. Secondly, the expressionist style means that I am able to explore beyond realism.

I call these portraits  “David Bowie and Nebula” because of the colours of these portraits. The colourful portrait reminds me of the late David Bowie’s look with the lightning across his face, while the blue portrait reminds me of Nebula from the Guardians of the Galaxy. I made a mistake in highlighting Nebula’s cheekbones, which appeared to be an accidental scar, which brings to mind Nebula’s cybernetics enhancement by Thanos.

02. Approach

I traced the portrait from a magazine as I want to focus on using markers. I also did a search online for expressionist portraits and mapped out the colours based on its shades and highlights.

03. Challenges

Most of the expressionist portraits are painted using acrylics or oil paints. I decided to explore with markers for a change. With markers, I have to consider how the layers blend and layer with each other as it is transparent, just like watercolours.

While many colours can be used in creating these portraits, but my training as a designer forced me to find colours that are visually pleasing. Choosing unsuitable colours will create the effect of muddiness, which is not my intention of these portraits.

I was scared of messing up the colours and strokes. In the end, I decided to trust my instincts and create these two portraits in different colours.

04. Final Thoughts

I was happy how “David Bowie” came out brightly instead of muddy. As for “Nebula”, I wished that I did not highlight the cheekbone too prominently, but the prominent cheekbones give a fiercer look.