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Hello all I used to lecture in art and know a fair bit about it.

All of the artists pictures shown here have a few problems in common;

The colours seem very reduced. This is partly because some of the photos are taken in artificial light, this really cuts down the range (or gamut or colour space), then on top of that the camera doesn't grab all of the colours, and then as if that weren't enough some more of the colours are lost on screen or through the painting process. I would strive to get natural lighting first of all in the photos, because even experts are really really going to struggle to do anything with these. Ideally if you can get soft sunlight - sun through partial cloud this will really bring up the mix of colours.

Okay soo.... so when you have more coloured areas, it's easier to paint, you have a more interesting surface, and you can 'sculpt' more because some of the colours will describe contours and areas of the face. You won't get large areas of very similar colours which don't really work in face paintings.

The next thing 'for the next level' is the use of grounds, this is underpainting of a different colour. Actually using a cool blue is good for portraits - it helps stop a face getting too warm, overloaded with hot colours.

And the paintings seem very smooth, generally a bit of graininess is used - eg canvas. It allows for a lot of interesting effects and gives a surface vibrancy to the picture.

As you paint sense the structure underlying the face. It sounded very weird to me when I first heard this, but the knowledge you have of bony areas and so forth really helps assemble the reality.

One final trick for now is to actually think of yourself as a sculptor with the brush, try and sculpt form - the more you think in 3d the more the painting will gain depth.

Okay if you want to read more I would recommend 'The Art Students Handbook' by P Newberry which contains many more pages of this kind of stuff! All the best to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Hello all I used to lecture in art and know a fair bit about it.

All of the artists pictures shown here have a few problems in common;

The colours seem very reduced. This is partly because some of the photos are taken in artificial light, this really cuts down the range (or gamut or colour space), then on top of that the camera doesn't grab all of the colours, and then as if that weren't enough some more of the colours are lost on screen or through the painting process. I would strive to get natural lighting first of all in the photos, because even experts are really really going to struggle to do anything with these. Ideally if you can get soft sunlight - sun through partial cloud this will really bring up the mix of colours.

Okay soo.... so when you have more coloured areas, it's easier to paint, you have a more interesting surface, and you can 'sculpt' more because some of the colours will describe contours and areas of the face. You won't get large areas of very similar colours which don't really work in face paintings.

The next thing 'for the next level' is the use of grounds, this is underpainting of a different colour. Actually using a cool blue is good for portraits - it helps stop a face getting too warm, overloaded with hot colours.

And the paintings seem very smooth, generally a bit of graininess is used - eg canvas. It allows for a lot of interesting effects and gives a surface vibrancy to the picture.

As you paint sense the structure underlying the face. It sounded very weird to me when I first heard this, but the knowledge you have of bony areas and so forth really helps assemble the reality.

One final trick for now is to actually think of yourself as a sculptor with the brush, try and sculpt form - the more you think in 3d the more the painting will gain depth.

Okay if you want to read more I would recommend 'The Art Students Handbook' by P Newberry which contains many more pages of this kind of stuff! All the best to you.
What a treasure you are. I just started painting and I'm fumbling around on my own watching online videos and just playing with the paints. I will try out your suggestions starting with getting that book "The Art Students Handbook". I'm also planning to take some online courses in a few months. Have a trip planned for May so I don't want to start anything like that now. Thank you for you advice and Welcome to the Artist Forum.
 

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Yes Liz I take your point. Smooth texture is very uncommon in portraiture so I thought I would mention it. I am not sure if it applies to every photo here. It helps move away from a waxy texture which a smooth support can build up with oils.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I'm so fortunate that I paint only for myself, for my own enjoyment. But of course I enjoy it more when those paintings come out better and it's an ego trip for me to be improving in something while the rest of me is going down hill from old age.

I've been giving thought to what you said about the photo's. I'm not at all good at taking photographs and I don't have a good camera. Often just use the one on my phone. I will however make a point of taking the pictures I want to use in better light. Probably not outside until the winter is over. LOL -- you know arthritis and all.

I actually like the smooth texture of the skin and found it amazing that with the oils and a mop brush it's so easy to do. I've been striving for more contrast in skin tones in my portraits and will continue to do so because it seems each time I'm able to increase it a little the portrait is worlds better.

I truly appreciate that there are so many good artists on this forum and are willing to take the time to comment and help me along with my hobby.

Thank You.
 

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This is a nice example where light and shadow really help to sculpt the form.

It also makes clear shapes which help with the construction.

You can imagine how much flatter the image would become if the shadow areas were lightened.

It is by no means an essential - there are no hard and fast rules in art! But if you type in 'the Madonna' to Google images you will see that at least 99% of the portraits utilise high contrast.
 
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