Tag Archives: using a sketch as a jumping uff point

Portrait painting workshop……

Tomorrow I am giving a Portrait painting workshop.    My goals are to help the group to be playful, remove the fear that often arises when the words ‘portrait painting’ come up and to focus on capturing the essence of their subject.

I will begin the day with a watercolour demonstration using one of the participants as my model…and then encourage the group to make quick studies of one another.   As this will be part of the warming up process, newspaper or inexpensive wallpaper lining can be used….

Simplifying the subject as demonstrated in this quick study, helps the artist to begin to see what’s in front of them.      I often say that we can live with someone for thirty years but it’s not until you draw or paint a subject that you actually see them.

felt tip pen and a watercolour wash.20-11-15-1-750I highly recommend carrying a sketch book….This offers perfect opportunities to observe people and make quick studies.

During a lecture at an Adlarian Summer School, I made this quick sketch of Vincent.   I used a pen during the lecture and then applied wash afterwards.

pen and wash. 20-11-15-1-747In this study of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Wales – I wanted to capture the stern quality of her expression.

watercolour/gouache/felt tip pen study   20-11-15-1-754Silvern was one of the actors I painted last year when in Nantes France.      I have to say that working with the group as they rehearsed for a production was one of the year’s highlights.    As actors they were naturally very expressive and wonderful to capture.

Note in this watercolour all the whites are dry white paper.

When giving a portrait workshop, I often see people struggling with one aspect of a face, i.e. the nose.    More and more paint is added, causing confusion to the painter and the portrait –   Often all that is needed is a shadow next to the nose – and voila.

watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (371)This young woman was enjoying some spring sunshine….note all white areas are dry white paper.    By adding the dark background, the profile is revealed.    I have used the same tone in the background as in the shadow areas of the face….Remember everything is interconnected.

watercolour19853_341904480395_7803458_nIn this alla prima  (painted in one session) oil sketch of my son when he was 26 years old (he’s now 50), note that the strong shadow on his neck reveals his chin…..The top lip is in shadow revealing the bottom lip….The dark in his hair frames and reveals the face. til-august-10-187I painted this oil sketch of Megan about 32 years ago when I was working on  a large portrait of her Mother in my West Chester, Pennsylvania studio.    After a sitting, Megan asked if I would paint her, and so I used the paint left on my palette capturing her in about twenty minutes.

rapid alla prima oil on canvas sketch P1150316A rapid sketch of Eli.    I love drawing/painting children.   The proportions are completely different.      It’s a case of ‘less is more’.

from one of my travelling sketch books.  – pen20-11-15-1-752I painted this spontaneous watercolour portrait of Margarida as a demonstration in Portugal last year.    At the time, Margarida was pregnant (I get to meet the new baby in April. 🙂       I used an elephant sized  sheet of paper.      I didn’t worry about the outcome but simply enjoyed the moment…which is something I highly recommend that others do.

Large, spontaneous watercolour of Margarida. 20-11-15 - 1 (93)And then there is the self portrait.

When models are scarce we always have ourselves.  I have painted several self portraits over the years, and find them to be illuminating – always learning something new about  myself.        This alla prima oil sketch was painted on January 3rd 2000 when I was living in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.    I loved that hat, and somewhere along the way have lost it…..ah well, I still have it in the painting.

alla prima oil on canvas. – self portrait. P1140993Happy painting.

A Bientôt