A few weeks ago I attended a young artist’s solo exhibition. Although he was technically skilled, the subject matter (mostly oil portraits with the models nude or semi-nude) didn’t really inspire me. So why am I still thinking about his work–and telling you about it? Well, I keep coming back to the parts in his paintings that were slightly off–a pair of feet that were really red for some unknown reason, an eyebrow that arched a bit too much on the model’s face. I’ve found that the weird–the details of a face that aren’t symmetrical, quirks that make a person’s look unique–is what I remember when looking at portraiture.
|Femme aux Bras Croisés
(Woman with Folded Arms)
by Pablo Picasso, 1902.
I know I’ve said this before but I think it’s worth repeating. The ‘weird’ or uniqueness of a person is what makes for moving and memorable portrait art. If an artist can’t find those qualities in a sitter, then it might be necessary to work with an altered lighting situation, a different model, or spend some time changing how we look at him or her.
|Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) by Pablo Picasso, 1905.|
So when you sit down in front of a person as a portrait painter, first ask yourself: if I were going to describe this person with just three words, what would they be? Take your answers seriously as you figure out how to paint your sitter. And spend time, even just a few minutes, talking to your model before you begin your painting. The way they talk, their subtle mannerisms, as well as the information they choose to share–these are the inroads of painting portraits successfully.
And who has more personality, quirks, and funniness than children? It might be worthwhile to experiment with portraiture painting by depicting a child in your life. Children are often fearless and they have personality to spare, and in Wende Caporale’s Children’s Pastel Portraits DVD you’ll find a portrait artist who sees her models as individuals and tries her best to pull out their unique characteristics so that the finished painting is more than just an accurate likeness. And today at the North Light Shop, spend $40/$50/$60 and save $10/$20/$30 with the discount codes SAVE 10, SAVE 20, and SAVE30. Enjoy!