Sunday, 2 August 2015

Portraits, Workshops and Tips

One to One demonstration
A Child's Nose

My workshops have now become so popular and I love keeping my classes to a small group number allowing me the opportunity to give individual "one on one" time with each artist attending. As the workshops evolve artists choose their subjects to paint depending on the demonstrations of the day or their own personal art journey. I actually never know what I am going to be asked to demonstrate for each artist and that is part of the challenge for me in teaching. And it adds to the exciting dynamics of the group because we aren't all painting the same thing. And no one is turning into clones of me. Everyone finds their own style and it is fabulous.
This week I have to admit I have painted so many individual one on one demonstrations and cannot remember them all as the artists are often given these pieces to take home and learn from. In these personal tuition moments I try to find out what problems the artists are having with their work. One problem seems definitely to be measuring accurately. I know I paint in a loose style but my subjects still have to look as though they are believable. A good example is a gorgeous little girls' face one artist was painting. Their work was stunningly soft and so well suited to the young age of the child. But one thing was out of place which distracted from the gorgeousness of their painting. It was, in this case, the width  of the mouth which was too narrow. A very simple adjustment made the whole painting complete and beautiful.

Measure. Learn to measure and learn to observe.

Another tip when painting portraits, especially if you were working from a photograph. Don't be fooled by dark shadows at the base of the nose. Think about the age of your subject. On an older person, yes, these can be stronger and bolder in colour. But on a child keep them soft. A tip I share is to paint all shadows in a darker shade of the flesh colour you are using at first, to see if you are happy with them. Only then build up to slightly stronger darks but keep these shadows muted on a child's portrait to flatter your subject rather than make them look far too old for their years. Of course, different nationalities have varying skin tones and some demand great choices of glowing pigment. But for a pale skinned toddler be very careful and keep your work light.

Another tip if you are looking to paint portraits or even a subject you have never painted before. Rather than leaping in to paint the whole thing in one go, break up the sections and paint just one feature at a time. Get it stunningly right before tackling the next on its' own. So try painting noses. mouths and eyes as exercises. Observe shapes, colour and proportions. When you are happy with your exercises try painting the whole subject.

Think about painting like eating a box of chocolates. Eat one at a time and savour each mouthful leaving something to look forward to. Don't eat the whole box in one go and regret it later!

Most of all

Have fun painting!

No comments: