Painting portraits from Photographs: Week 4

March 17, 2021


This is the last of the head and shoulders portrait challenges and this week it would be great to try a portrait that is different from any attempted so far. If you haven’t yet tried to paint a very elderly person or a hatted person perhaps try that. Alternatively you could try a profile or near profile view or someone with amazing hair.

If possible choose a reference where the subject is not smiling. No one could possibly sit and keep up a broad grin for forty minutes and portrait studies from photographic reference look far more natural if the subject has a pose that could realistically kept for a long period.

If you decide on using a grid make sure that you take only the information that is really necessary to get the large shapes right. If you draw freehand in charcoal either as an under drawing for pastel or acrylic try to work tonally just indicating all the main forms and observing closely how the light reveals their form. Observe whether the head is tilting back or forward Remember to measure the total width and height of the head and to position the eyes and ears correctly.

Looking up, looking down

If painting someone in a hat look at how the hat shades the face and how soft edges are under the hat.

All of the upper part of the face is in shadow.
This one imagined the light was directly from above. Observe shadows carefully, not only of the hat itself but of the shadow of the head falling on to the shoulders and chest when the light is from the side or from above and from one side of the subject.

If you are going to attempt a profile you may like to look at a few examples on the Profile section of my Portraits Pinterest Board, link below:

There was also interest in attempting a portrait where colours represent tones. You can find several Fauve portraits and the work of the contemporary artist Jessica Miller who works in this way in the Fauve portrait section of my portraits Pinterest board, link below:

Have fun!

Your Paintings:

Tonal Drawing by Maryon
Portrait by Maryon
Pastel and pastel pencil
Jess by Pam
Joanna Lumley
Pastel by Shane
Tonal study from a Photo of Picasso
Pastel by John
Charcoal by Elizabeth
Vanessa and Nick
Acrylic by Elizabeth
Elderly Man
Charcoal by Liz
Virginia Wolfe
Acrylic by Liz
Drawing by Sarah
George is watching his Beach Ball float out to Sea!
Watercolour by Sarah
Drawing by Sarah
Pastel by Sarah
Watercolour by Maricarmen
Acrylic by Malcolm
Pastel by Heather
Heather has used a sienna coloured paper.
Pastel by Barbara
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