Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drawing the Portrait

Hello again folks,
This was a drawing demo I had done for an article in American Artist Magazine. I had also done a full color painting demo which the magazine thought looked more finished. I still think this is a fine example of how I begin each portrait. This was painted from life in one 3-Hour sitting.

I begin with just a few strokes to indicate the placement of the head. I don't ever want it to get too big or too small. This is a gesture drawing, very light, to indicate movement and get a feeling of where things will go.

After I get a general placement I begin to work on the eyes and nose first. I use plenty of plumb lines to check angles. At this point I don't measure. If I need to measure (as in with my thumb on the end of the brush) I do so only to check if there is a mistake. If you begin your work by measuring, you rely to heavily on it and are not training your eyes to see. I feel that getting the diagnal angle from the outside corner of the nose to the outside corner of the eye accurate is on of the most important elements of a portrait.

As I move through the painting my detail gets sharper, my paint gets darker and I try to be increasingly accurate. At this point the drawing does not have to look exactly like the model but it should be close. As the drawing gets covered with paint it may need to be re-drawn several times so there is some room for error....but not too much.

I always look at the drawing to be my "map" for the rest of the painting. The more accurate it is, the easier it should be to make the painting and the faster it will go. If the eyes are too low in the beginig drawing at it takes two weeks before you realize it, well that will slow you down a bit.

When I feel the drawing is complete, I add the brightest highlights in pure white. I paint them thinly because I will be going over them later with more paint. I put them in because I feel that it help me gauge the likeness and the feeling of the overall picture. If it feels right now it should feel right later.

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