Portrait painting is not easy I know. But do not make it more difficult than it is: stay organized in portrait painting.
There are countless elements that seem to have nothing to do with portrait painting. Some of them are easily amendable. They are feasible for everyone. Talented or not, skilled or not.
I attach great importance to a tidy studio and a clean palette. We are not all Francis Bacon are we?
During my lessons I always hear myself saying: Keep your kitchen tidy! Imagine having to prepare a meal for a group of people. You start with a clean countertop and clean pans. No leftovers that stand in your way. That is how you must see your studio: A pure workplace that invites you to get started.
My studio - Ben Lustenhouwer - YouTube
As in my previous post, again a quote from the book The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. This text really appeals to me!
“The technique of painting begins with the simplest mechanical issues and extends through to the heights of science.
You should begin with the simplest issues. See that your palette is a good tool, sizable for what you have to do. See that it is well set with clean pigment, ordered to the greatest convenience for your work.
Be watchful of your need and the steady development of your craftsmanship. See to the size, quality and condition of your brushes, they are to be handled for a difficult operation. See to your medium. Are the cups right in size for your brushes? Are they securely attached in place most convenience for the service?( )
A barber has an apparatus that is surprising, and all in such remarkable order. His intention is but to shave and cut hair with the least amount of discomfort for the sitter. An artist proposes to make a work of art, and while his work requires infinite skill, he general far behind the barber in arrangement of the most ordinary necessities.
Should this be so? Why should a studio be a boudoir, a dream of oriental splendor to have tea in, a junk shop, a dirty place, and rarely a good convenient workshop for the kind of thought and the kind of work that the making of a good picture demands?
Should a palette be crust of dirty, dust collecting, dried up paint in which little inadequate squeezes of fresh paint become confounded? Why should´t the whole thing be cleaned up every day?”
The San Antón fiestas Chelva is one of my favourite festivals.
With all people from the neighborhood we make big bon fires and eat and drink until late at night while music and processions come along. On Sundays we make a big paella and that is what I’m working on at the moment. Later this afternoon I will show you the video I’m making, so come back later.
“Chelva has a unique event of its kind: the Cuentantón, the party of the illuminated word, in which story and bonfire embrace again to remind us that this has been the case for many many years. And I hope it continues and burns while there is firewood to burn and stories to tell.”
Much can be said about white in oil painting. By far it is the paint that is most sold. I am also a bulk consumer.Together with Yellow Ocher, it is the paint that I use the most.
Since I have been browsing every now and then the beautiful book The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, I come across the most beautiful passages that I must remember. I keep my ear to the ground reading these pages.
Like this text that I replicate in its entirety, about white in oil painting.
About white in oil painting
“In the painting of light, in modeling form, keep as deep down in colour as you can. It is the colour that makes the sensation of light. Play from warm to cold, not from white to black.
The tendency to put in more white is so usual that it would be well to restrict the white. Keep it off the palette. Allow only so much of it in the pigments which must have it,and allow the much less than you think they should have. A set palette may look quite impossible for its want of white in comparison with the subject before you. It certainly is, any paint is, if you expect to reproduce the thing in nature.But your work is not, and cannot be, a reproduction. Nature has its laws. Your pigments and your flat canvas have other laws.
You must work within the laws of your material.
Pictures which are overcharged with white paint look whiter but they do not have the look of white.”
In order to learn portrait painting properly, it is essential to develop your drawing skills. Actually that applies to all forms of realistic art. I had the good fortune to have had an excellent drawing training at a young age. However, I know that many of you do not.
I am often asked to create video tutorials that pay attention to the drawing skills. In the future, I will certainly do so. For now I give some ideas.
Standard planes and proportions.
There are countless examples of how a face can be divided into a number of equal parts. Also regarding to the many planes of the head, there are a number of standard forms. This is what Bridgman says in his Complete Guide to Drawing from Life:
´At first the study of heads should be in the abstract, that is, we should forget everything that distinguishes one head from another and think of the masses common to all heads´
For anyone who wants to learn portrait painting seriously, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. If you don’t want to buy this book you can search the Internet for “Planes of the head”. It is really important to become familiar with these standard dimensions and surfaces.”But not one face is like the other!” you might say. That is precisely why it is important to understand these basics and to get the feeling of how and where they deviate from the standard.
Ask models to sit for you.
Underpainting and finished portrait of Robert
The Tuesday afternoon sitting in my studio
It is also of great importance to study from life. Try to get family, friends and neighbors to pose. Do not try to make a piece of art. See it as study material, just as an athlete does his workout.
Look on the internet.
When it is difficult to find a model, the internet is also a fantastic solution. Search for “faces” and you get a source of examples from which you can choose.
If you think that I myself already know everything, then you are wrong.
Every week we have a model coming. And other evenings, when I do not feel like reading a book or watching TV, I often sit in front of the computer screen and pick up my book of a thousand sketches and scribbles. Never enough exercise, nor for me.
Today, May 18, I launch my newest video tutorial “How to paint a portrat in watercolour”. It took a while before I could take up my project of new video tutorials, but now time has come. And on short notice other video demonstrations will follow with more information about portrait painting & drawing. In this […]
Within soon my newest tutorial “How to paint a portrait in watercolour” will be launched. So many people asked me for it. I am glad that I can meet this demand. The video contains all information about the watercolour technique. I take a close look at the specific approach that is essential in painting a […]
In my April Newsletter I give an explanation about the mixtures of fair-skin colours of those two portraits. So if you did not sign up, please do. (and receive the 100 Portraits e-Book) For those who are already signed up also check your spam box, if you think you did not receive the letter.
To all my loyal readers. In recent years I wrote my weekly blog post about many topics, related to the world of portrait painting. My intention was to create of source of information where everyone could find something to his liking. Occasionally a personal story. 333 posts in all those years. Lately I realized that […]