Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to (or how not to) paint a portrait

MaraMonday morning is Figure Drawing day at the Huntsville Art League. This week, we had a beautiful young woman as our model, which in itself presents a challenge. No wrinkles to serve as  landmarks and ‘architectural’ scaffolding.

She asked me how I go about drawing or painting a figure. A caveat before I proceed: I’ve been known to do an in-depth study of a nose and turn it into a beautifully rendered horse’s head. Interestingly enough, I tried to draw an actual horse’s head from life this weekend and failed miserably, but I digress.

The first thing in drawing a portrait is to get the features placed where they ought to be. I use a wooden steak skewer to help me measure distances, angles, etc. Which works very well for marking distances that are fairly far apart, such as the width and length of the head. What I learned this Monday is that with my wiggy contact lenses and fuzzy vision, measuring small distances is not quite so accurate. So not much of a likeness.

Regardless of likeness or lack thereof, I then proceeded with the painting process. It started out pretty good, but what can go wrong when one uses such faint values to be almost invisible. I had a feeling of problems ahead when I realized that my only red on my palette was a strong hot pink (another lesson learned: pack my stuff the day before. Monday mornings are not a good time to think with a clear head about which colors to put on a palette, and just grabbing one leads to such situations as this one.) So I threw realism into the wind and decided to use all colors on my palette, get the values believable, and have fun. Which I did. Lots of it. And I learned another thing about watercolor as a medium: when I don’t want it to drip, it will, but if I actually want a drip, it won’t do it. Go figure…….

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marina--
    I like the portrait. Saw you on NetworkedBlogs.