View Full Version : First attempt at a portrait
02-05-2001, 10:13 PM
Hi, all ~
I tried posting this down in the Portraits section, but haven't gotten any replies. Maybe I'll do better here. I'm hoping for some tips on what to look closer at, do better next time. I mainly do animals, but I'd like to get to where I'm competent at depicting a human or two, also. Constructive comments do not offend me in the least.
<IMG SRC="http://www.northwood.org/studios/images/Hunter-full.jpg" border=0>
It's a portrait of my husband's half-sister's son that I did from a photo when I'd never seen the boy. There were several times when I felt that was the dumbest thing I'd ever tried to do, because the lighting isn't too good in the photo I had to work from, and I wasn't even completely certain what his hair color is without the flash highlights. If you're curious, you can go to the link below this paragraph to see the portrait shown next to the photo I had.
Anyway, it's done, and it did the job of pulling me out of a funk. At least I can now say that I've done a portrait, so that's an accomplishment I'm proud of - a good way to start the year.
Northwood Studios (http://www.northwood.org/studios)
Greetings, Scottish Horse :P
The photo is kinda small, so it's hard to see the likeness very well. Anyhow, I think what's mainly missing are shadows. The painting seems to consist only of mid-tones. There are a lot more shadow areas in the photo than in the painting. His right side seems to me to have a pretty deep shadow area.
Hope that helps. Diane and Sandra and everyone else can help you more. I'm not good at critiquing anything but horses and other odd animals :P
<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Nan dèanadh mo làmh mar a dh'iarradh mo shùil!</FONT c>
-- <FONT size="1">If my hand could do as my eye would desire!</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!
02-06-2001, 12:06 AM
Originally posted by EquusAlba:
Hi, all ~
...I'm hoping for some tips on what to look closer at, do better next time. I mainly do animals, but I'd like to get to where I'm competent at depicting a human or two, also. Constructive comments do not offend me in the least.
...Anyway, it's done, and it did the job of pulling me out of a funk. At least I can now say that I've done a portrait, so that's an accomplishment I'm proud of - a good way to start the year.
Indeed, you should be proud! If that's your very first ever portrait I'm very impressed! BTW, your site is very nice and loved seeing the horses and everything (unicorns!), I've only done 1 horse myself.
This is probably going to ramble and I risk being laughed right outta here but here it goes...
This is more of a general comment than a specific treatment of your pic...
I would first look at the big picture, the shape of the underlying support of the face, the skull. If you can get a "feel" for how round or boxy it is, pointy or soft etc, you will have a better chance at getting it "better", because you will recognize clues to it when you go to copy something from the pic or model. (As opposed to just this eyebrow goes this way etc)
Of course the shapes of the features are important, but they are always related to the underlying skeletal structure. (The eye fits into the socket, rather than just on a flat plane)
I say this because portraits are very hard, and just copying what you see will be much harder than if you have an "internalized" idea of the skull underneath. Sometimes we (definately me!) can get distracted by surface details and things go slightly askew. For a human face this is far more of a problem than a vase or flowers etc.
Anyway, see if you can internalize the overall shape of the head and face... how round vs how boxy is it? How pointy is the chin, or flat is the face etc. (Color is yet another level but not critical to the likeness) If you keep these kinds of "questions" in your mind as you go, you will "see" things you didn't before and then you will be able to put them in your painting! If you can't "see" it, you can't draw or paint it, right?
Drawing skulls is good practice for some of this, and it doesn't have to be super detailed either, it just depends on how far you want to take it. I say the big picture is more important than the details... you can recognize someone from a fairly blurry pic right? Well, that lends a clue right there! (I just realized this... wow)
Nice job, thanks for the post, I've just helped myself if nothing else! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif
I look forward to more!
02-06-2001, 09:01 AM
Nice job with your first portrait. Here are some tips (Noble had great foundational information. Drawing is essential to building a good painting).
Looks like you may have worked from a photo where the light is shining perpendicular to the face. This will wash out any important information you need visually. Painting a head dead-on, especially with this lighting will give a flat appearance to any face. It will also lead to potentially pasty flesh tones. This type is a challeng for any protraitist.
On your next portrait, try to use a picture that has the the lighting coming from the side to give the face more immediate dimension, or even a 3/4 view. This will give you more to work with and make your next attempt even more successful.
Yes, do let us see more of your work.
Best Regards and welcome aboard!
L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)
02-10-2001, 01:00 AM
Thank you all so much!
You offered exactly the kind of suggestions I can use to make the next effort better.
The comments on being too mid-toned is something I've heard in critiques of some landscape work I've done. I'm definitely going to have to pay attention there. Thanks, Roan!
Then, WOW, Noble! I tend to get so caught up in the visual that it was a real break-through to think kinesthetically. One of my big leaps forward in doing equine artwork was painting miniature model horses. I really absorbed a lot about equine structure that way, so when I depict a horse in two dimensions, I tend to have a three-dimensional image in my head. I even find myself running my hand through thin air as if following the contour of a shoulder or neck of a horse as I'm working on a painting. This is going to give me something to mull over - making sure the mental image is three-dimensional ...
And Diane, you're so right - the lighting was perpendicular. I wasn't thinking about that when I started - it was a whim, really. By the time I was clicking back into a more critical viewing approach, it hit me that I never would have used an equine reference that had lighting like that. That's when I went through the phase of thinking I was totally crazy in attempting it, but the next mental reaction was to refuse to let it defeat me. ;^) The lighting being problematic in my sole reference photo did have me off to a crippled start, as did having nothing but photo references. With my animal work, if I can't see a portrait subject in person, I like to have a video to get a feel for personality and mannerisms. It was big 'a-ha' reading your comment about how the perpendicular lighting affects the flesh tones. I can visualize that difference now. Thank you!
I've learned a lot from doing this piece, and even more from all of your help - many, many thanks!
Northwood Studios (http://www.northwood.org/studios)
[This message has been edited by EquusAlba (edited February 10, 2001).]
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