A color I don’t use much: Veridian is what I chose to make this portrait. Crimson and Veridian, Red and Green common colors for Christmas in the West.
Where the light is coming from and how the figure is posed are common problems the artist has to figure out.
It was a sunny Christmas day a couple of years ago when I shot this photo on my phone. One of the issues I realized later was that the shadow under my niece’s nose nearly blocked out all of her lips. After redrawing and redrawing the image, I finally figured out how the lips look. This is a practice I would recommend everyone do for portrait painting. If you can get your model to sit for a long time, great! But this is highly unlikely if you’re an up and coming artist like myself, who doesn’t have a bottomless wallet. Get a well-lit shot that shows detail even in the shadows. That is the number one objective of good photography. Even with your artist’s license, if you want to obscure, cover, or block out portions of anatomy you will want to know how that part connects to another part when drawing it.
Secondly, have your figure pose in a natural and interesting way. I have to say of my nieces that they are both very photogenic. I guess this is a benefit of growing up in the world of camera phones. My niece chose this pose, not me. Fingers wrapped with the pointers under the chin, that was natural to her. The Santa hat was her own embellishment.
What was up to me was the angle and catching the natural light. There are no rules for posing except that as the artist you want to capture personality and character. Make sure the light is distinct. Capturing a smile is generally better than an angry, sad, or look of distaste. This is totally up to you. The last thing I want to say about good portrait reference is that a good profile helps as well. You can see the hair, the hat, and the features of the face. As the painter, emphasize the darks, contrast the whites, and make nuances of the middle tones.
Venture out to the world of watercolor painting!
Leave comments below, I want to hear what you think.