Painting a Portrait, Tuesday 16th May 2017

This painting was worked from a black and white photograph. The angle of the head, the direction of the gaze, the expression on the face and the set of the mouth makes this an interesting challenge.

Pertinent points of a portrait: eyes halfway down the face, light source in eyes, eyes must be set back in face, nose, concentrate on the nostrils – the sides of the nose should be painted in not drawn in, mouth, this is a plane on the face so has to be painted showing as such, shadow, usually cast on one side of face and below the chin.

I started off with a very detailed drawing. I drew in all the shading but erased it as a painted. I used a variety of mediums: watercolours, some acrylics, watercolour pencils and graphite pencils.

Once I was satisfied the drawing was correct I prepared my palette. When using black in watercolours use a chromatic black: 50% ultramarine blue and 50% burnt umber. This is used for the hair, eyebrows and some of the shadows and the nostrils. I started by painting the head of hair. I used a stipple brushstroke and built that up in two glazes of paint as the hair is thick and there is no obvious light source shown. I then painted in the eyebrows, the shadows around the eyes and the cast shadow on the neck, using the chromatic black.

I made the skin tone using a wash of burnt sienna. When painting flesh use a large brush as the paint should look even and very transparent, so the water content is very high in the wash. I painted in the eyes using a burnt sienna with a small amount of burnt umber mixed in. I used watercolour pencil to draw in the shapes around the mouth, the nostrils and the outline of the mouth. For the shadow cast by the upper lip on to the bottom lip, I used chromatic black.

When the skin tone was dry and applied a stronger wash of burnt sienna to represent the shadow on the left hand side of the forehead.

I painted in the white robe using white acrylic. When painting a portrait take a photograph on your phone with the photograph next to the painting. You will see immediately any adjustments you need to make, if any.

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