View Full Version : Live Portraits

01-06-2006, 09:00 PM
Last year the opportunity came along for a WC friend and I do spend a day doing quick portraits at a local fair. It was quite successful, I did 16 ten minute pencil portraits and sold a painting, and Margaret did a did a few more than me and sold a couple of paintings.

From that experience it seemed a good idea to try this on a regular basis, and so I began doing it at the local craft markets, held every Sunday in an open air Mall.

Not having any experience I enquired in the WC Portrait Forum, for tips and ideas, there were a few positive responses... but not from anyone who had actually done it!

Since then, apart from a winter break and the present a summer break, I’ve been continuing weekly as often as possible, and have picked up a few clues and some experience, but there's still a long way to go!

It seems to me that this is an excellent learning opportunity that not very many try, and there is a lot of scope for ideas and discussion about the subject. It occurred to me that some in this forum may like to discuss the subject... experiences, methods, ideas and tips?

The photo here was taken on my very first time in the Mall , a day when I did 27 portraits. One satisfied client took this photo of me doing some finishing touches to his portrait, and emailed it to me when he returned to the US.



01-06-2006, 09:22 PM
Mac, that's really impressive. I'd be scared to death to do that! It's at least a couple of thousand times scarier than painting plein air in a public park.

Please don't tell me that portrait you're painting in the photo is a 10 minute job, or I might hang it up right now. LOL It looks wonderful.

What an amazing experience....Not only don't you have to pay a model, but to have such a variety of faces and make some money to boot..... I'm speechless!

If you have a chance to take pics of any of them as you finish them, I'd love to see a bunch from a single day. What fun!


01-06-2006, 09:55 PM
Well, I was GOING to post the portrait that I did last night at my life drawing session but now I'm embarrassed! haha, not really, I accept that I need a lot of improvement -that's why I practice! but WOW you are where I wanna BE! Way to GO. And now I want to practice more. Jamie's right about the scary part too! You are really putting yourself out there, but I bet it's also fun -what a great idea. Show us more when you can.:clap:

01-06-2006, 10:02 PM
Wow Mac, 27 in one day.......I'm amazed at your fortitude. Great start to anything if one is looking for encouragement!!

Cheers, Dianna

01-06-2006, 10:47 PM
thanks for the comments, this is a two way process, you need confidence to do it, and confidence comes from doing it!

I have been doing live figure drawing once or twice a week for a few years now, and have always wanted to do portraits but there never seemed to be the opportunity. So a few months prior to this is persuaded the local art society to start a sunday morning portrait group. I arranged volunteer models and we paid $5.00 each for use of the premises. We managed to get twelve sessions done before the society lost it's premises and we had to stop. I think this is the main experience that gave me the confidence to think "I can do this!" when starting in the mall.

It is scary doing it with a crowd staring over your shoulder, especially when you don't have a technique... for me it's just like life drawing I just grab a pencil and start!
I kept a few of the overheard comments, also confidence boosters...
" I have lived in Montmarte... yours are as good as theirs!"
" I havent been amazed by anybody, but I am today...can you do mine!"

I'm very conscious of my lack of technique, and flaws in my drawings, but I'm confident that if I can keep going for a year or so there should be a huge improvement.

Jamie, they are nearly all about 10 minutes in pencil or charcoal. that first day I was offering pastel and three colour drawings, but I dropped them as they took too long, the pastel was about 20 minutes or so.


James or Jimmy Jim
01-07-2006, 09:44 AM
Mac, very impressive! I don't know if I could do it in a mall. :D

You are the real deal, man - you just roll up your sleeves and do it. :clap: :clap: :clap:

I'm also getting turned on to portraiture and am planning to organize a private group, if I can find enough people (and enough time). Portraiture must be a natural progression from life drawing.

I'm really enjoying this forum! Go Mac, go!

01-07-2006, 04:48 PM
I don't know if I could do it in a mall
I didn't either Jim, I was confident from my life drawing experience, where I will often snatch a portrait, as you do, that I could do a reasonable job in a 10 minute time frame, but that has the luxury of being able to throw the drawing away afterwards!
Here there is the pressure of expectation, that you have to produce a recognizable likeness, reasonably finished, within a short time span, of people who mostly think that you are taking a photo and have never had to sit still! and there is the added pressure of observers watching and often making comments... you somehow have to ignore all that, relax, and just think of it as one more life drawing session!

A portrait group is the ideal next step for you Jim, best if you can arrange it on a regular basis to keep the momentum going. Mine was twice a month for about six months, and two and a half hours, we usually finished up doing about 4 x 20 min poses per session... or more if you can control the breaks!


01-07-2006, 04:57 PM
Mac, you are a brave man, doing that in 10 min. in a mall with so many people around you. You are incredible!

01-07-2006, 05:13 PM
Mac, you are a brave man,
Thanks Peter, isn't it surprising what desperation will drive you to! When you see life going by and you haven't done what you want to, a glimmer of opportunity is enough to overcome all sorts of things ( I have always been a very shy person ala voluntary mutism... but throw art into the equation...!)


01-07-2006, 05:45 PM
I like your resolve to not let life pass by, Mac!!! That's my personal creedo as well...tomorrow is not guaranteed us, and every opportunity of yesterday is past! No guts...no glory....and you never fail 'till you quit trying!

kudos...!!!!!! :clap:


James or Jimmy Jim
01-07-2006, 07:48 PM
I keep saying that you are the real deal Mac. You are an inspiration mate.

I agree about a portrait group ... if I can't find or create one, I'll have to be a group of one. :D It's a turn on for me at the moment.

01-08-2006, 03:55 PM
Larry, with an approach like that, the only way is forward!

when this idea dawned, the main thought was opportunity, not courage! Instead of struggling to find, or persuade people to sit for a portrait, and pay to do it, they would come up and ask, and be willing to pay! I took the easiest road because this is a craft market, full of stalls of handmade items (nothing imported or mass produced) so people wandering through are out for the day looking at or for craft items, and many are tourists... I just sit there and wait, and each time someone sits it is an opportunity to improve and develop the skills!


01-08-2006, 08:59 PM
I've been too intimidated to try portraits! The only way I would want to try is in real life. My sister paints portraits from photo reference and has won awards, so I think her accomplishments kind of pressure me. She doesn't do landscapes and that is my love, other than animals. At least the animals don't complain.:rolleyes: I guess, just like plein air, I will have to put aside fear and just try it! Not today though.

01-09-2006, 03:20 AM
Pam, I do think the best way to learn how to paint anything, landscapes, still lifes, portraits etc. is directly from life. I'm not setting myself up as an expert here, just someone who has found one way to get lots of practice.
If you want to try portraits, a good way to get started is to find a group that does portraits. Art societys, community colleges etc will often have one running, and there is nothing to fear!


01-09-2006, 10:55 AM
I just saw this Mac. I don't know how we missed each other! I do that too! Its funny but I am so spontanious I will make up my mind to do something without really thinking it through and then I find myself in these predicaments and think "what am I doing here?" But it stretches my tent stakes and its really good for me. Last year I did a formal portrait for the owner of the Washington State Fantasy Faire and he wanted to either pay me or trade for a booth space for all three weekends at the faire. Well, that faire brings in 55,000 people so I took the space! I brought in my paintings and prints but the first day I only had lookers so I thought I'd better think fast. So I started doing what I call 'quick oil sketches' of people around there and they saw them and were excited about them and bought them. Then I set up a couple as ads and started doing 20 minute 8 X 10 oil portraits. It was tons of fun. Mine took 20 minutes. Don't know why I took so much longer than you did. Are pastels that much faster? Anyway I think I know how to streamline my work next year. Here is my set up (not to rob you of your thread here, I just thought that it sounded like you were trying to make contact with others who do the same thing)?
It was really alot of fun. Of course, I had to have my Renaissance Garb and persona...but that made it even more exciting. Next year though I'm going to forego the jacquard! It was in the heat of summer.

I've been invited to several Celtic celebrations this next year, I'm hoping for the Highland games and then Faire again in August.

Our malls are a little hard to get into-in fact I don't think I could without a lot of money and the farmers markets around here are not lucrative for painters.

This is great! I'm glad I happened upon this thread!


01-09-2006, 11:48 AM
OMG, Diane! Could you start another thread and show us some of the 20 minute oil portrait sketches you did?

Both of you should get speeding tickets. :D


01-09-2006, 12:51 PM
I AGREE! I think we need help with our LIVE portraits. I have checked out the portraiture gallery before but it tended to concentrate on reference pictures.:cat: Pam

01-09-2006, 02:04 PM
Ok Jamie,
I didn't want to hijack Mac's thread so if you want to edit my post go ahead.


01-09-2006, 04:30 PM
Dianne thanks for posting, (I'm searching for your thread but I haven't found it yet!) one reason for the thread is to find out what others are doing, and have an interchange of ideas, I’d love to discuss more.
That’s a lovely colourful display there ( I would be paying full price for that setup!) I don’t see any visible signs or ads’?
Speaking of bravery here I think an oil portrait in 20 minutes is a bold step!

The first day I took along all my pastels, as well as pencils, conte and charcoal. And was offering 10 minute portraits, tri-colour or full colour. I dropped the full colour pastels (I’m not really a pastelist (not yet anyway!) and the two I did took about 20 minutes or so), and I dropped the tri-colour ones as I’m still not sure of the technique.(but I still intend to work on these)

My only experience is with drawing the figure, and the maximum poses we generally get are 20 minutes, so working within a time limit is quite a normal thing, and there is a sense of knowing where you are with the times.
I consider this a huge learning opportunity, and I began experimenting, trying to find the most suitable papers, mediums and techniques and have been concentrating on drawings in either graphite, charcoal or conte.

I tried all sorts of papers, (all A3 size) and I find that some work well for one medium and not others, and some are not nice at all! But I came across a Chinese artist who told me that he does this in the city and he gave me a number of useful pointers...

Use A3 copy paper (is cheap, comes in colours and is a good surface to draw on)
Don’t take longer than 10 minutes, people are not used to, or prepared to sit still longer ( I have found some can’t sit still at all!)
Recognize the facial type, (long. round etc.)
Practice, from magazines etc and use a timer to keep under 10 minutes.
Work quickly, instead of looking and drawing a line, look and draw 10 lines.
Be professional, get a shrink wrapping machine ( not practical for me)
Use hair spray from the bargain shops, not expensive fixatives.
There were probably a few others that I can’t recall now.

I started with a very light portable easel ( in the photo) but it would ‘walk’ so I changed to a more solid one.
You do need some sort of covering from the sun, I work on the shady side of the Mall, but in the summer with more direct overhead sun I have been putting a Market Umbrella up, it’s protection, stops all the squinting... and birds dropping things!
Every week I tell myself, I must get something bright, shiny and attractive to hang on the easel for little kids to look at... but I always forget!

I'd love to hear more ideas, suggestions and perhaps experiences.


01-09-2006, 10:34 PM
Hi Mac,
I didn't make a thread yet because I couldn't find any photos of any paintings that I did this summer. I know I was so busy I didn't take many and I must have deleted the ones I did take. So maybe I won't be making that thread after all!
That painting you did is gorgeous! Mine didn't come out like that. Mine were very sketchy and even though they looked like the people, they were no where near the quality of what you do.

I have on experience to share in particular, it was terrible. A young lady passed out in my booth and we had to get the medics. She suffered from heat exhaustion and it wasn't necessarily from posing but from the heat, lack of water etc. I am going to get a battery operated fan next year for my models. I'll also take some photos of the finished pieces to share on WC.

You don't see the ads in that picture because I took that picture before I put them out. The set up is a little pricey, but if you do festivals and outdoor shows it certainly is worth it. Some shows won't even let you in unless you have a cabana. I am actually supposed to have more of a tent for Faire, but fortunately this Faire is not fussy about that. The medeval tent I should have cost like 500-$1000. If I ever seriously pursue doing the Renaissance Faire circuits, than I will have to get an authentic pavilion. It would be fun for sure.

Thanks for letting me piggy back on your thread. I'll go through my cds and see if I have any images of paintings I did this summer. I have a couple of formal portraits that I was commissioned to do at Faire, but they are from photos so I can't post them here.


Oh, and I brought my studio easel from home. I was able to leave the easel there and I much prefer my studio easel to the plein air easel for this kind of work. I also brought my rolling table and I use a music stand to set my palette on. I like the music stand because its so portable, I can raise the height the same as my painting, and the angle is adjustable.

01-10-2006, 03:01 AM
Dianne, I don't know that I'd ever try oils in a situation like this, with the live portraits that I have done, it takes me a full 2 hours before I have something that I feel OK with, I rarely try them with the figure either because I find 20 minutes is such a short time!

I haven't tried standing with the easel, I like to sit close with good eye contact, the only drawback is not able to stand back and look, which think really needs to be done with a portrait!

You don't want many experiences like the lady collapsing! Do you have insurance just in case of something happening? One of the conditions of the Mall is that we have to have public liability insurance, and product insurance for those that make things.

One of the people I drew one Sunday was an Asian lady, who told me she was a gallery owner. She rang up the next day and told my wife that she didn't think the drawing was a very good likeness... but then she went home and compared it to some photos... and thought it was very good... and was sending her husband along the next week to have his done!

The only rejects I have had so far have been kids and small babies that couldn't keep still! dogs are as bad or worse, I have begun to offering to take a photo of dogs if people ask ( the mall is also a popular place for people to walk their dogs ) I recently did a French Mastiff, a Blue Cattle Dog, and I have a British Bulldog to do before we resume again later in the month.

This is also an ideal opportunity to advertize portrait painting from photos (or life) and I did three for a lady that were to be Xmas presents.


01-10-2006, 12:06 PM
I have been painting in oils all my life ever since I was a pre teen and they are second nature to me. I would struggle with any other medium in a situation like this.

The Faire has the insurance and they also have their own medics and lots of security folks with phones so not a second goes by when there is an emergency that someone isn't there to help. All this girl needed was to lay down for a few minutes on the ground where it is cooler. The fact is, there were several folks that day that collapsed from heat exhaustion so they had people pushing wheelbarrels of water around handing them out to everyone for free. They will be putting me in a shadier spot next year.

That's funny about your asian lady. Its nice that she took the time to compare the drawing to a photo. A lot of people don't realize what they do look like! Portraits are tricky that way. I always try to give my subject the benefit of the doubt but being as I am working at a fantasy faire I can do that! Most ladies ask me to take off 10 pounds and I tell them, "my lady, this is only an 8 X 10 canvas, everyone gets some weight taken off by default".

Most of the children sat pretty still for me but the babies I just use my imagination. There are a few adults that could have sat better for sure. But most of the moms understand and love the painting anyway. The children always ask for fairy wings or swords and such so it makes it special for them and all my kids absolutely loved theirs. I bring frames for sale too and will try to bring more again next year, along with my tools for framing. I have a friend that helps me. She has to schedule people, we make a little appointment book, and she collects the money and writes reciepts. I just painted and was lucky to get a half hour lunch break!

You said rejects...does that mean the folks wouldn't buy them? I didn't have any of that. But then, I collect the money before I paint.

Here is a trick for you that we came up with. You can get a photo printer that will print right from your digital camera card. At the Celtic Faire I had a lady that wanted me to do her two sheep dogs. I had my husband go out to her car (this was an inside fair) and take photos of them and then we printed them up right there and when I was done with the portrait I was doing I did the dogs from the print. She loved it. At the Ren Faire there is no electricity but my friend found a photo printer that works off the battery so we'll be bringing that for those special cases. That way I can work for 10 minutes from life and then the photo and then the buyer can enjoy the fair and come back to pick up their portrait-which they usually do anyway because they don't want to carry around a wet painting. That way too I'll have a better end product.

Yes, its an excellent way to advertise what I call a 'formal' portrait. I have some portraits of my family that I bring and display so folks know what I am capable of. Bring all sizes so they can have a choice. The folks that ordered formal portraits gave me a deposit and then we corresponded email. I tell them the portrait is guaranteed to please them. I can do that because with their email address I can send them jpegs of either the progress or the finished piece and if there is something wrong with it they can tell me and I can fix it. I have not had a dissatisfied customer doing it that way.

The only negative I had was a lady had three children. They wouldn't sit still nor would they smile. So I painted what I saw and the lady kept saying, "yep, that's my kids all right" She bought it. It wasn't a great painting but it was a likeness.

Have fun! I think its great you get to go to the mall and do this. That makes it a steady income for you.


01-10-2006, 12:59 PM
Oh, by the way, I found one painting that I had did and I started a thread with it. I'm going to go through my cd files and see if there are anymore. But I have to do that this afternoon.

Mac, lets see some of your portraits!


01-10-2006, 04:54 PM
You said rejects...does that mean the folks wouldn't buy them?
I offer what I think is an irresistable bargain, something that only costs small change, and if they don't like it they don't have to take it!


People are sometimes surprised, so cheap! my emphasis is not about making money, but its a long term goal to get as good as I can, and I figure the best way to get there is by drawing as many people as possible. So I'm offering something that most people probably would like, at a price that won't hurt the pocket book. I figure that in a years time I will be that much better than I am now, and many will come back for another one and won't mind paying a bit more then.

When I started, WC member margmackisack was doing this with me on alternate Sundays, and I still averaged almost 25 a day for the first 7 weeks, but since the winter break the numbers have dropped to almost half that. I think the novelty may have worn off for the regulars, and its not viable for two now.

So far there have been a very small number of wriggling babies, and ADD type kids that couldn't sit still, that I couldn't get a likeness with, and there have been quite a few that I haven't been happy with that people have taken. (as well as quite a few I have been rather pleased with)

I did a portrait of a little girl in a blue hat for a mother just before Christmas, (in the portrait section of my website) and when the mother came down to the stall to pick up the painting, she was thrilled with, and asked me to do a pencil sketch of the girl... and I found it impossible, she couldn't keep still for 2 seconds! I figure in time, with practice I should be able to overcome this!

I dont have the gadgets for photos that you have, I prefer to try to avoid the live dogs and offer to do a drawing from home (when I can take my time with them)

lets see some of your portraits!
I don't have any! ( I have plenty of quick portraits done during life drawing) I just get caught up in the process at the time, and never think of it... though quite a few have taken photos of me in the process... if I could only get hold of some of them (the one at the top of the thread is the only one I have been given)


01-10-2006, 05:12 PM
Wow, thanks for this explanation Mac.
I sold my quick sketches at the fair for $25 and averaged 12 a day. I added $10 for every additional person they included in their painting so if they wanted three people it cost them $45. I had quite a few couples painted. If I took the painting home to finish (sometimes a request) the flat charge was $50 because they always got a better likeness. I figure if I bring the printer I can do twice as many paintings. It cost me $525 for three weekends at the Renaissance Faire so there is a business expense involved here. And the pavilion and all the things I need to set up...yes it cost money. Plus I pay my helper. But its also a very lucrative income and I did very well. I hope to do better next year because I have some other things I'm thinking of doing to sell.

I understand about just wanting to practice getting the likeness. Your confidence will come in time. It looks to me like you do really well.


01-10-2006, 08:03 PM
Okay you guys...This thread is just too good. I'm going to rate it. Anybody care to help me? (hint, hint!)

I think it's already time to form a sticky thread of links to extremely helpful threads in the forum, and this one is way up there.


01-11-2006, 07:36 PM
Great experiences! Your pictures look great, I wish I could see them better. Lori

01-11-2006, 09:53 PM
OK then, who is going to make LIVE PORTRAITS a project? I need encouragement. HELP!

01-11-2006, 10:08 PM
Gosh Pam, that's a thought isn't it?


01-13-2006, 07:37 AM
We had our monthly art club meeting last night. Another artist is interested in practising live portraits and has a model that will sit for our practises. If not, we will practise on each other.:D

01-13-2006, 09:07 AM
That is great Pam! I host our model sessions at my house. It started just by three of us consenting to pitch in $10 to pay the model. Lots of people will pose for you for $30 or $40. You'll love doing it and so will your friends. I am so glad you started this up. We have so much fun. We do a little potluck lunch too. I throw something together in the crock pot and others bring a snack. Everyone really looks forward to it. I'm sure you and your friends will enjoy the time together and everyone's work will really improve! I know our group has!

01-13-2006, 09:39 AM
OK then, who is going to make LIVE PORTRAITS a project? I need encouragement. HELP!

Pamela, why don't you do a project for us? :D You could do it as our monthly project for this forum. Just pick a month and post it to the Monthly Themes Sticky thread at the top of the forum page. I'll be back on Tuesday, and will add you to the list at that time if you'd like to do it. :)


01-13-2006, 04:30 PM
thats a good start Pam, once there a couple interested in doing it perhaps some more will join in as well. Drawing each other is good too, we sometimes resort to that if a model fails to show!

I'm still keen to hear from others who are, or have been doing mall type portraits, I know some in the figure forum have done it, but are not around just at the moment.

One of the plusses is the variety of subjects, I think the majority of requests are to do children, and the ones who can sit still are a real bonus! Teenagers and young women are enthusiastic sitters; slightly older women will often offer a suggestion as to what they would like to see corrected, and older people are great opportunities to do character filled faces.

I haven't worked out yet why some are so easy to draw and some are so difficult! I was saying this to a man as I sketched his lovely and easy to draw grandaughter... and then he asked me to do his grandson... who I really struggled with!

The same difficulty comes up when people ask for a double or triple portrait.
I had the same problem with a buck toothed lady with thick glasses, and very hard to get... and her partner... who was a breeze!
I will usually try to get them to go for a single portrait if I can!


01-13-2006, 10:27 PM
I am REALLY NOT qualified to do a project when I am just starting portraits! I think any of you could do a better job than I. All that I know in painting, is paint what you see, not what you THINK you see. If someone had told me that I could paint by practising that alone, I would have started a lot earlier. Now I look at a dog, bird, chair, bush, all the same way. Light, dark, colour, value, shape, negative, positive. I just wish I had more time and energy to paint.:D

01-15-2006, 01:18 PM
I was just looking at miniature competitions and came across this post. Does anyone know anything about it?


Are you an aspiring artist or budding portrait painter?

Have you held a life long dream of seeing your carefully crafted drawing or painting receive national recognition? Perhaps you’re already a keen amateur artist or maybe you’re simply a van driver who dreams to be the next Van Gogh.

We are looking for anyone and everyone who has put paint to paper. Our contestants will come from all walks of life but all have one common interest, the love for art.

This summer Granada Television goes into production with a creative new daytime programme to find Britain’s best amateur portrait painter.

9 UK cities will play host to a national art road-show giving would-be artists a chance to paint 20 of Britain’s best loved celebrities - and giving members of the public a chance to be voted Britain’s best amateur portrait artist – and win a top cash prize plus a publishing deal!

Just how will the nation brush up?

For more details about the A Brush with Fame competition and how to enter simply email your name, phone number and address (including postcode) to celebrity.facepaint@granadamedia.com

Or ring the following number and leave those details on our answer phone: 0871 200 2200


01-22-2006, 03:06 AM
The mall started back today and it was a warm 42 C.
I have decided to drop graphite and charcoal for a while, and used a sepia coloured pencil all day, it's less messy, doesnt need fixing and feels good to use. I did another 20 today, and the man came for his bulldog pic which he was happy with.
I was just packing up when the last person asked if he could sit, and I actually thought of taking a photo afterwards! I used a black (coloured) pencil for this one.
10 minutes as usual.



01-22-2006, 03:24 AM
Wow, Mac, that's an inspirational 10 minute portrait! Beautiful.

I love using Prismacolor colored pencils for sketching. They give such rich color and great darks. Only problme is that you can't erase them. Of course, in your case, you probably don't even have time to erase anyway!

Pamela, no need for experience to run a project! Most of the time members run projects in areas where they need experience, not where they already have it! All you need to do as a project leader is to be encouraging and comment on everybody's work. :)


01-22-2006, 02:43 PM
thanks Jamie, I think the drawing indicates the stage that I'm at, a fair likeness but quite a way to go with the technique, but that should improve with all the practice! and the quest to find the right tools will help with that.
I used Koh-I-NOOR woodless pencils, they can be sharpened so that an edge can be used for broader shading and still get a good point.
I think they are going to be ideal for the tri colour method as well... once I get a white one (and a suitable toned paper)
... I'll be giving them a go in life drawing too (when it starts again)

You are right about not being able to erase! the answer seems to be go very lightly in the beginning, to try to get everything in the right place first, and commit to firm lines last


01-22-2006, 04:53 PM
I used Koh-I-NOOR woodless pencils, they can be sharpened so that an edge can be used for broader shading and still get a good point.
Ooooh, those sound awesome! Can we see a pic?

You are right about not being able to erase! the answer seems to be go very lightly in the beginning, to try to get everything in the right place first, and commit to firm lines last


*nods* That's what I do with Prismas too. Drawing in ink is good practice for Prismas. Nothing like having to commit yourself.... LOL


Katherine T
01-22-2006, 06:46 PM
Mac and Dianne - well done, being paid to have people to practise your portrait drawing on is some feat! :clap::clap::clap:

I go to tearooms, cafes and restuarants to draw people. Except of course they don't know they're posing and don't keep still!

I do agree 10 minutes is about as much as you can expect from most people in terms of keeping still. I developed my ability to draw people fast doing life drawing classes and it's had an enormous and beneficial impact on every aspect of my art. I'm a total bore when it comes to droning on and on and on about how beneficial life drawing is.

01-22-2006, 11:06 PM
Mac and Dianne - I admire your courage and your work. Sounds like a lot of fun - if only I could! Working full time doesn't give me much time and that's my biggest frustration - and as you said Mac - life is going by. If only ...if only...if only...:envy: :envy:

01-23-2006, 04:02 AM
Jamie, the woodless ones are good to use, I trim the plastic coating down a bit, and use a sharpener to get a good point, and use them at a slight angle to get some broad and soft shading, before using the point.
The short brown one here was a new pencil when I started on Sunday!

Katherine, I notice that nobody that you try to draw serruptitiously ever keeps still... I think they do it deliberately!
I have heard that trains are good places to do that sort of thing.

Vana, I know the frustration, but there comes a time to decide not to be beaten, and find just one way to keep the spark alive, whether it be a drawing group or something like that, just hanging around Wet Canvas is a good motivator... don't leave it too long... it can be done!


Katherine T
01-23-2006, 04:25 AM
Mac - trains are indeed good sources. I've found that other fairly reliable sources of people who don't move too much are:

people sitting and waiting for buses or flights
people watching television - and reasonably absorbed in what they're watching
people reading
bodies on a beachOther really good sources of people who keep repeating the same movements (which is nearly as good as people who keep still!) are artists and musicians. Every time I go out painting with a bunch of artists I generally end up drawing some of them - and I've got a bunch of such drawings on the website if you'd like to take a peek (http://www.pastelsandpencils.com/people.html). The heads go up and down, the painting hand goes back and forth, they occasionally shift in their seat and have a stretch before "resuming the position"! LOL :D

01-23-2006, 07:18 AM
I really enjoyed the slide show Katherine, you have a bold and clear drawing style and you certainly have caught the moments very well.
I think the ideas for finding subjects are very practical, but I don't find myself in those kind of situations very often, and time in figure drawing groups is so precious... there's no time to sketch the others.



01-23-2006, 07:34 AM
I've got a bunch of such drawings on the website if you'd like to take a peek (http://www.pastelsandpencils.com/people.html). The heads go up and down, the painting hand goes back and forth, they occasionally shift in their seat and have a stretch before "resuming the position"! LOL :D

Oh, Katherine, they're wonderful! I do hope you'll post them here in the AFL forum for inspiration for the rest of us! All that you say is so true....I initially started taking Life Drawing classes years ago because I noticed that all the artists I admired most, no matter in what subject nor medium, had a lot of life drawing experience. It does indeed transfer over to every other area of artwork. I keep a sketchbook in my purse and it comes out a lot when I'm somewhere waiting for whatever.

Mac, thanks so much for those pics. OMG, I'm drooling! It's a "Gotta have!". I'm off to find some. :)


01-23-2006, 08:27 AM
Mac, I haven't found the Koh-i-noor ones yet, but came across these. Have you ever tried them? If so, how do they compare with the Koh-i-noor? You can get lead holders for these too. How cool!

Edit to add: okay, I found them in sets here:


01-23-2006, 03:09 PM
Jamie, yes I have tried those cretacolor ones, they are good to use but are different to the cp's. Smaller in diameter, I would liken them to conte, that is more chalky, and you really need the holder for them. I found them good when I was trying the blending 'prudhon' style of figure drawing.
The progresso pencils are fairly soft, not as hard as a conventional cp, more subtle than the conte pencils, and absolutely clean, I didn't have to clean my hands at all on Sunday, or spray the drawings.
I just checked your link further
woodless pencils (http://www.aswexpress.com/discount-art-supplies/online/1371/art-supplies/4)

edit... that sale price is a steal!

01-23-2006, 03:32 PM
Thank for the additional info, Mac. I was really hoping I could find them individually instead of purchasing a set. I'd like to know that I can replace just the ones I use. I agree the price seems great, so maybe I should spring for the set and by the time one is used up, I'll hopefully have found a source for individuals.

While I was browsing, I also saw a set of thick Lyre skin tone pencils. Mmmmm....those looked pretty delicious too. And then....I also saw these new pencils! (http://www.dickblick.com/zz220/39/)

01-23-2006, 03:56 PM
Jamie, I thought you had a set of everything :D
Iif you check with the art store, you will probably find that will have them on sale individually as well as the sets.
It might be an idea to put a block on these art material sites $$$


01-25-2006, 07:45 AM
Thank you Mac for pointing me towards this thread so I can share my experiences too.
I grew up drawing pencil sketches of my brothers and sisters growing up.

However, when I left my real job in 1990 to pursue my art, I had been painting landscapes for several years. I discovered then that my real passion was painting people, and that I had wasted all that time.... so I had to do some quick catching up. I did portraits in shopping centres, at markets, fairs, even at an Amnesty International fete.... I couldn't get enough. I used mostly pastels, charcoal or aqua pencils. Can't remember how much I charged, but I've never really worried about that.... if I can cover my costs I'm very happy!

I would encourage anyone who really wants to learn portrait painting/drawing to find a place to do this.....even in coffee shops as already suggested. It's a way of teaching yourself really! You can improve your observation skills immediately.

One word of warning though..... while working in a shopping mall once and just finished a pastel portrait (I was working from a photo, in between customers) I went off to the wash room for a few minutes. When I came back to my portrait :eek: someone had run their finger diagonally right across it!

Enough talking here..... time for a picture and a bit of colour..... so here are some of my portraits from the 1990's:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2006/44092-1995.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2006/44092-90s_a.jpg
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2006/44092-90s_c.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2006/44092-90sc.jpg
1. A self portrait, oil.
2. Watercolour detail of a portrait.
3. Pastel.
4. Watercolour.

James or Jimmy Jim
01-25-2006, 08:36 AM
Pauline, lovely work, as usual. :clap:

I don't think I could do it in a mall.

01-25-2006, 09:34 AM
Beautiful work! :clap: Pam

01-25-2006, 09:47 AM
Lovely work Pauline.


01-25-2006, 04:04 PM
Pauline I was looking forward to your posting... never disappointed, the portraits are just excellent, as to be expected!

I agree its a great way of learning, the difficulty for most, as Jim pointed out is having the confidence to get started. I think the easiest way would be to progressively work up to it, drawings of friends, a portrait group and or figure drawing, (they usually have faces... except where Jim goes :D) and then small fetes, fairs etc where the expectation is not so high. But of course if you are super confident... just get straight into it!

What did you find was your favourite, or most practical medium and method to use Pauline?
I'm still working this out. You have already mentioned one of the problems of pastel, soft charcoal has the same problem, compressed charcoal and graphite still need fixing, but I'm find the above mentioned cp's are a good alternative.

I see in your figure drawings, your latest thread (Back to life...Today) for instance, that you capture the face with great simplicity and directness, do you think that doing mall portraits would have greatly contributed to that skill ?


James or Jimmy Jim
01-25-2006, 04:16 PM
Oh Mac, :D :D :D you gave me a chuckle.

But you're right, pay to have nude models, then draw their faces. :evil: :D

For me, the answer is to find (or start) a portrait group.

01-25-2006, 07:51 PM
What did you find was your favourite, or most practical medium and method to use Pauline?
I'm still working this out. You have already mentioned one of the problems of pastel, soft charcoal has the same problem, compressed charcoal and graphite still need fixing, but I'm find the above mentioned cp's are a good alternative.

I see in your figure drawings, your latest thread (Back to life...Today) for instance, that you capture the face with great simplicity and directness, do you think that doing mall portraits would have greatly contributed to that skill ?


Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Ahhhh Mac.... you want me to prattle on some more? Don't you know I'm a woman of few words, but many pictures:D !

I agree.... gaining the confidence to begin is probably the biggest hurdle. But if you draw enough faces (magazines, family, friends, neighbours kids, etc. ) and religiously (but I don't mean you must do it on your knees!) do 2 or 3 a day, you will soon have the confidence.... because you will then have the experience. Then off you go.... the worst is over.

(If the big challenge is scary, challenge yourself to smaller steps)

Coffee shops are fine for 'Interior with figure' works, but you do really need someone to sit still to get a likeness at this stage.
Maybe we should get Richard (gallery orlando) to comment on this.... he has a way of going for a coffee and coming out with a fabulous portrait because he has been able to persuade a stranger to sit for him.

I really don't have a favourite medium.... it seems to be whatever I'm working in at the time. Must be fickle! I always experiment with new materials though.... that next pencil just might be the absolute best!
The easiest to start learning portraits with IMHO is willow charcoal because it is so adjustable and from there you can progress to pastels easily. And with charcoal and pastels, your finger can become another tool.... a really handy one you don't have to search for. Another tool I really have to have on hand is a putty rubber.... so good for picking up particles or for rolling into little threads and pulling out strands of highlighted hair, or even for sharpening lines.

Lastly.... if you intend doing masses of portraits in a session you must practice working within a time frame..... challenge yourself again and again and see if you can complete a charcoal portrait in 10 minutes, a pastel one in 15, a watercolour in 10, for example. Keep doing them until you can.

Yes, Mac.... those quick portraits in the markets did help to speed me up..... my aim has always been to paint spontaneously and not to labour over too much detail. I found shortcuts....as everybody does and you can once you have crashed through that nail-biting nervous stagehttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2006/44092-nervous2.gif

Hope there are useful tips here.

I will PM Richard for a few more.

01-25-2006, 09:05 PM
I'm at the nail biting stage. :D But my confidence is building by telling myself that I will do just fine! Unfortunately, I hate pencil, charcoal and pastels, so paint it must be. I'll just start out small and work into bigger and more detailed faces. (Knees knocking now, time to get the inner voice encouraging myself.):confused:

01-25-2006, 09:47 PM
Pauline, thank you so much for your fine contributions to this thread. Both your pictures and words are truly inspiring. I hope you'll continue to post your work here in the Artwork from Life forum. It's so important for us to see what's possible! The thought of completing a charcoal portrait in 10 minutes and a pastel in 15 is still quite foreign to me, but DANG! I sure do want to give it a try every time I breeze through this thread! I need to do more, more, more!


James or Jimmy Jim
01-25-2006, 10:14 PM
Jamie, I figured it out, there's something in the water down under. :D

01-25-2006, 10:28 PM
Jamie, I figured it out, there's something in the water down under.
You mean, like something that makes you grow and make funny noises...barrghooom



01-25-2006, 10:41 PM
Added thought........ it may be easier to find a Life Drawing Group than it is to find a portrait group. At most of the Life Drawing classes I've ever attended there is usually at least one person who is doing portraits only.... so don't think that it would be strange only working on the face. You are an artist so nothing is strange! (I like people to believe this!:D )

And now some colour to liven up the B&W text.......
1. Detail from watercol portrait, about 2001
2. 20 min pastel portrait from Life Drawing session, about 2000
3. Acrylic and oil portrait, about2000
4. Commissioned pastel portrait, about 2000

01-26-2006, 12:24 AM
I like the 20 min. pastel one best. She looks real enough to get up and leave. :clap: What is it about pastel? Too bad I don't like working with it.

Katherine T
01-26-2006, 01:48 AM
I can only endorse Pauline's comments to this thread - so many useful tips! I very much like her contributions in terms of paintings and drawings as well. And the website is really great too. :D :clap::clap::clap:

Added thought........ it may be easier to find a Life Drawing Group than it is to find a portrait group. At most of the Life Drawing classes I've ever attended there is usually at least one person who is doing portraits only.... so don't think that it would be strange only working on the face.
In connection with Pauline's last comment about finding portrait classes and/or using life drawing classes as a substitute, I've started a new thread "Drawing Heads.......and artists" (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=322213) which includes some examples of what I've been able to accomplish in a drawing class - bearing in mind I've been practising drawing people for some years. And the key to developing skills at the end of the day is always going to be PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. As Pauline says, if you draw a lot of heads you gain the confidence to draw a lot more heads......and then it's always easier to do it in public.

01-26-2006, 02:41 PM
I have found that it is easer to find a life drawing group than a portrait group, but I've also been surprised to find just by chance that some things exist I never knew about. It's possible that with a bit more digging, something unexpected will turn up!
I also agree that confidence is increased by practice, when all else fails I find that hair magazines have very good photos of faces.
More good points and examples Pauline.


01-26-2006, 04:38 PM
......., when all else fails I find that hair magazines have very good photos of faces.

Mac! Great!....... my hairdresser keeps the old ones for me. I also used to tape everything I watched on TV...... yes, everything.... even the news! Then I would freeze-frame on a face which had some nice modelling shadows, and sketch it.

01-26-2006, 07:01 PM
I find this awesome what you are all doing, especially going out to the mall and drawing people, I actually started doing this at my camping site, there are lots of kids and I started with the kids I knew and drew them and they were so happy they went and told the other kids so before long i would have a stream of kids asking me if i would draw them, models for free, but i could see that with each picture i could really capture that special look from each child, whether i could go in our main street where i live is something else but thanks for all the information i have got from these mails...................

01-26-2006, 11:45 PM
At our workshop tonight, we decided to have our first portrait painting get together next week. Wish me luck. I'll need it! I'll post my first one if I don't burn it on the way home.:D

01-29-2006, 03:01 AM
Pauline you have an advantage... you have a hairdresser!
It sounds like you have a lot of control over the tv too, the videos is a great idea:cat:

Pam. I'm sure your portraits will go well... as you are determined!
If we dont see your name around for a while... we may suspect you have been arrested as a pyromaniac:p

I took a couple of snaps of my set up before starting this morning... pretty basic.




01-29-2006, 03:43 AM
Pauline .....
It sounds like you have a lot of control over the tv too, the videos is a great idea:cat:

I do have my own remote and my own TV now....... Dave has his own, and it's all cricket, football, tennis or golf. When we only had one TV, it was a problem!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Jan-2006/44092-cricket.gif (Nothing but sport!)

I just remembered.... I meant to ask about the hairsparay, and using it as fixative. Someone told me a long time ago that hairspray used in this way eventually turned the pastels muddy. Since then I have been loathe to use it on my pastels. I will however, use it on my butchers' paper drawings. It would be great to hear other views on this........... anyone?

(Great set up Mac..... looks very comfortable.)

Katherine T
01-29-2006, 04:42 AM
My recollection is that hairspray works and is better than nothing if you've got a pastel drawing which needs fixing - but not recommended for final versions of pastels paintings you want to keep and/or sell.

01-29-2006, 05:12 AM
...........first portrait painting get together next week. Wish me luck. I'll need it! I'll post my first one if I don't burn it on the way home.:D

You'll do no such thing Pam.......we'd all like to have a little look...... please!
I'm sure we will all be pleased to see it! (Besides.... you're name has a lovely ring to it and I can just see the signature now!)

01-29-2006, 05:38 PM
Mac, your setup is delightful. You look so organized.
Well, Wed. is the day. We have an older woman posing for the portrait afternoon, so look for lots of wrinkles.:D
I'm really looking forward to it. I better get organized and pack my french easel with everything I'll need.

01-30-2006, 03:54 AM
your setup is delightful. You look so organized.
organized... lucky I can get home in just over 10 mins... I don't know how many times I've forgotten... easel... drawing board...pencils!!

If I had a check list it would look something like this...

Easel for showing paintings and drawings
Paintings and drawings for display
Posters to advertize what I’m doing
Tape and bluetack for sticking them
Easel for drawing
3 chairs (1 for me, 1 for sitter, 1 in case its needed)
Table (for putting things on, and under )
Umbrella (for sunshine... & birds) and base!!
Drawing board, clips
Paper and drawing tools, ( pencils whatever )
Large Freezer bags to put A3 drawings in
Money (for rent and float)
Business cards
Fixative, handcleaners (if using charcoal etc)
insect repellent (for Aussie flies)
Food and drink
Camera (edit after forgetting last Sunday!!)


Katherine T
01-30-2006, 04:03 AM
Mac - excellent list - I'm making a copy if you don't mind. But I think you left out "the kitchen sink"! How do you transport it all?

01-30-2006, 10:21 AM
That set up looks wonderful Mac!

Does anyone ask for a fee to set up there? I think that if you were in the states someone would be coming around with their hand out. I just wonder where a good place to set up would be without a lot of overhead.


Katherine T
01-30-2006, 11:00 AM
You know an entreneurial type would think that having somebody outside their shop or whatever drawing crowds would be a good thing. Maybe we should start charging them fees for getting people to linger longer...........;):D

01-30-2006, 03:02 PM
Katherine, I edited the rather vague 'plastic bags' in the list.
I drive a van so carrying things isn't a problem. Margaret who has done it on occasions as well, has a more compact set up where everything somehow fits on a trolley thing which she wheels along.

Dianne, the 'craft market association' has to pay the local council a set amount per stall for using the mall to operate, and has to charge the stallholders a set fee to cover the operating cost. The fees are just going up again, and I'm trying to decide whether to be 'permanent' which means I have to pay $20.00... whether I go there or not! or casual which is $30.00 but means I can choose whether to turn up or not. I don't want to put my prices up yet!
This is the sort of thing though, that can be set up in almost any likely spot, especially tourist locations, and near shops where people might stop to buy memorabilia, and would almost certainly get a good response.

having somebody outside their shop or drawing crowds would be a good thingExactly, especially on a tourist trail.


02-01-2006, 11:48 PM
OK, I got through the session, which was difficult for me. The other artists were doing portraits in graphite or charcoal and asked the model to change her pose every 15 min. After the first set, I was painting from memory and just double checking her skin tone. There was no way to go back to correct what was wrong. I would have liked one long session.
At least that first one is out of the way! I have no reason to be afraid to do portraits now, they can't be worse than the first one.:D

Katherine T
02-02-2006, 01:37 AM
Pamela - I'm sorry to hear that your session didn't work out quite as you had envisaged. I find that people sometimes have very different concepts of what is a "good idea" for how models should pose and how long they should pose for etc etc etc. Maybe check out at the beginning of the next session how it's going to work?

Considering the contraints you were operating under I think your portrait is a very creditable effort.

02-02-2006, 10:18 AM
I am very glad that a group has started for you, and proud of you also since it seems you had part in getting this group together..?

Its my experience that a series of short 15 minute poses is probably one of the most educational tools you can begin with when working with a model. May I suggest going along with the crowd in this. At least for the time being. With quick sketches you are going to learn placement, movement, shapes and shadows, lines, and many other important aspects that go into portrait and figure drawing. With enough of these sessions your paintings will come alive. If you don't want to use charcoal you can do them with oils, its not unheard of. There are actually oil tablets that you can buy if you don't want to waste canvas or panels. Try painting outline, just shapes and shadows, gesture drawings with a brush. All these things will teach you to loosen up. Its really fun. Sometimes I wish our group would do some quick sketches before we begin our poses. Perhaps you could suggest one hour of quick poses and then a stationary pose after that for more detailed work.
Have fun with it! And don't always expect a finished painting. But you might surprise yourself with the results.


02-02-2006, 10:32 AM
There is one shop owner I could work with I think to do this on a regular basis. I'm going to ask her. If I do it outside other than in conjunction with a business the city is wanting their cut and there is a fee. I'm not sure if they would issue a license for it or what. I think I will stick with the shop owner. I know I could do it at the farmer's market but I'm not sure what the response would be for that. People mostly go there for home grown vegies, not art. But I am kind of inspired to do it more than just the festivals that I go to. We'll see what happens.


02-02-2006, 11:52 AM
Thanks Katherine, I think practising on my husband is the next logical step. Dianne, although I know figure practise makes good sense, it is not the step I want to take. I have done many figure drawing sessions and they aren't my cup of tea. I would have been fine with a longer sitting, time to correct mistakes, etc. I also need to practise colour mixing at home so I can use the "A stroke laid is a stoke stayed." approach.
I don't plan on using portraits for commercial purposes. I just want to do it for my own enjoyment, so I'll have to practise, practise, practise. Guaranteed, I'll be priming over the first portrait and try again.:D

02-02-2006, 01:45 PM
Jamie, yes I have tried those cretacolor ones, they are good to use but are different to the cp's. Smaller in diameter, I would liken them to conte, that is more chalky, and you really need the holder for them. I found them good when I was trying the blending 'prudhon' style of figure drawing.
The progresso pencils are fairly soft, not as hard as a conventional cp, more subtle than the conte pencils, and absolutely clean, I didn't have to clean my hands at all on Sunday, or spray the drawings.
I just checked your link further
woodless pencils (http://www.aswexpress.com/discount-art-supplies/online/1371/art-supplies/4)

edit... that sale price is a steal!

Mac, the Progresso pencils just arrived. I love 'em to pieces already. I ended up getting them from Dick Blick for nearly the same price. I was afraid they'd be like the Prismacolor Artstix because they felt so hard to the touch, but they are much softer, go on easier, have lovely color, and you can blend them with turp/mineral spirits and a Q tip. This is gonna be fuuuuuunnnnnn! :D


02-02-2006, 03:24 PM
Pam, its good that you have started, I think that some discussion beforehand to come to some sort of concensus about the length of poses is essential. I find that length of pose has a large influence on my choice of mediums.
If the others want only shorter poses, then maybe the model can at least repeat a pose and the others can just move positions.
Your portrait was a good start :)

Dianne, I guess the hard part is the deep breath required to actually start off, if you know the shop owner already it should be a bit easier, I bet they would be quite keen for something that might attract potential customers :)

Jamie, it doesn't take you long... you are already experimenting with them! they are rich and soft... I wouldn't have thought to try turps. I'm still experimenting with different papers and colours, they are excellent with the copy paper.
I tried some different things with them at the first life drawing session this year, (last night)... not a success though (I may post in the FF tomorrow when I'll get round to taking photos and seeing how they look )


02-02-2006, 06:20 PM
I got a quick picture of the model before she left,
compared with my portrait of her.:rolleyes:

02-02-2006, 06:40 PM
Pam, I think you did extremely well, especially given that most of it was without the initial reference.
I do agree with Dianne about going through the 15 minute poses for getting to know your way around facial proportions, angles, etc.,........great practice..... and if there is not another group which caters exactly to your needs, it will not be wasted time.

For these quick studies you can actually use oil paint on paper. Just use an absorbent cardboard palette to absorb some of the oil before you paint with it.

Katherine T
02-02-2006, 07:14 PM
Pamela - the way I look at it with the short poses is that it's a bit like the warming up exercises at the beginning of an exercise class. First you need to stretch your visual muscle. Then you can use it.

Even if you were doing a longer pose later on, I feel certain I could guarantee based on my own experience (and I think I might well be echoed by others) that some quickie sketches at the beginning of a session will help produce better work later. It's not really to do with how many figure drawing sessions you've done and how experienced you are so much as "getting your eye in". I usually take a sketch book to my class and spend some time just doing quickies at the beginning before settling down for the long pose. That's self-imposed. I make more mistakes of I don't do that - not because I don't know how to draw a figure but just because I need to get my eye attuned.

02-02-2006, 09:38 PM
My problem is the time constraints put on our get together. I would be happy to do warm up sketches at the beginning, gradually increasing, but the others don't want to stay that long. Back to square one. I think I will have to make my own afternoons with someone posing for me alone. I can gradually work up to the portrait, get to know the face and the best angle, do sketch work, then a long sit.:(

02-28-2006, 10:18 PM
Mac, If you're painting for the fun of it, OK. If you are trying to suplement your income you should try CARICATURE. Each drawing takes 3 minutes or less and once you get proficient you can make a worthwhile amount of money for your efforts. You appear to be a talented artist from your photo.
That's my comment, have fun anyway. For the entertainment value you might try www.ronraasch.com and have Mc Cord take you on the tour. I've been doing caricatures for a little while and the response is amazing. Don't take no far an answer just charge for the drawing. If the subject doesn't like it, well, that's because they don't understand good art.; (ha ha) Good Luck

I saw Australia once in 1985 and was enchanted. Ron Raasch

03-01-2006, 09:05 AM
Don't forget everyone, next month is the Live Portrait project. I have to get my rear in gear and start practising!:)

03-01-2006, 03:07 PM
Ron,thanks... I went for a ride with Mr Mc Cord :D
My main purpose at the moment is to get the practice and experience of doing portraits, the money is to cover expenses and finance the rest of my art... and it makes a pleasant change from paying to do it!
Thats an interesting suggestion about caricatures. I've had had a couple of people give me photos and ask me to do caricatures from them (which I did) and quite a number mention they have had, or family members have had, caricatures done. I imagine its a matter of deciding on the main characteristics, exaggerating them and doing it boldly and quickly... I keep meaning to look into this a little more.

Australia does have a lot to offer, it requires a bit of travelling though!


03-04-2006, 10:46 AM
It's great that you can sell your caricatures, Mac. I HAVE to start practising the live portraits! A friend has asked me to do a portrait of his father later this fall. He understands that I'm just beginning to work on portraits but he likes my style and has fail in me.:o I told him that it may be a total washout but he wants me to try anyway. So I have about 6 months to practise before the commission. Yea gads, pressure, pressure! :D

03-04-2006, 06:22 PM
I´m, very happy to see portrait painters having a lot of fun and big success. I have not been that lucky yet. I opened a small studio 2 years ago and I still haven´t had any commissions yet. I have had several art exhibits and people seem interested, but they never show up. I will keep on going because at last I am doing what I have always wanted to do although it is only part time, since I still have to hold on to my job as a medical doctor.

03-04-2006, 10:23 PM
When I get upset about not having art sales, I think of the artist (believe it was Van Gogh) who painted 700 paintings before selling his first one. LOL Just 650 to go. :D

03-05-2006, 01:07 AM
Pam its good that you have got one to work towards, that'll give you some pressure to practice. :thumbsup: I think confidence is a big factor towards the end result, and getting plenty of practice helps that.

Enriqueta, I know a portrait painter who had that experience... leased a vacant shop on the basis of all the comments from people 'going to get their portraits painted'...that never did!
I wouldn't call myself successful, I hardly sold anything before doing these drawings... but one of the benefits from this on the ground exposure, apart from the terrific practice... is that it is bringing in a number of related painting and drawing requests, (in my latest thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=331157) in the figure forum I have posted a progress pic of a figure ploughing with drafthorses... and an email just came in with some photos for more portraits)
So maybe it just needs some sort of exposure to stir up the idea of portrait paintings , and your studio, in peoples minds?


Katherine T
03-05-2006, 08:20 AM
Mac - if you're interested in caricature, you might interested in my write up in my weblog (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/) of a drawing lecture I went to on Wednesday at the National Gallery in London - given by Deanna Petherbridge who used to be the Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy.

This is the link to the relevant post in my blog - Crassness and Cruelty (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2006/03/crassness-and-cruelty.html) - which was the title of her lecture on artists drawing in a caricature fashion. It provides a summary of some of the main points from the lecture - and if you look underneath you'll see an exchange of comments in which various artists are listed - with some links to websites providing examples of their caricatures.

03-05-2006, 03:38 PM
Interesting Katherine, it must be good to have those sorts of lectures available!

Also found the your use of 'blogs' interesting ! It's another area I've not really looked at and I suspect it takes more of the everdiminishing time up, but they do seem to have some valuable applications.

I looked at some of the links, and may consider caricatures sometime, it could be a useful addition, but I'm most concerned in trying to develope the ability to capture a real likeness first.


03-11-2006, 09:01 PM
thank you guys for your comments. I love to paint portraits and I´m only sorry I didn´t keep on painting through my schooling. I started in high school, then quit, retook it at the age of 25, quit again, and at last I´ve been kind of constat since 1997. I t really helps me a lot to be near people like you, and I wish I had full time to visit, but I´ll try to be here more often.
I am posting or at least trying to post my portrait.

11-29-2007, 02:30 AM
For all who are not aware of the following please go to the following if you will for it is of the up most interest to one and all www,youtube.com

12-03-2007, 07:23 PM
I just found this thread; very helpful. I too need to find a portrait group; right now my choices are wiggly family members or self-portraits. I've done several self-portraits (in oil and in graphite), and they're all a pretty good likeness, so I know I can do it if I have an immobile sitter. :)

Mac, are you still doing your mall thing?

12-04-2007, 03:21 AM
lllewkcots, I see you are new here, thanks for commenting.
youtube is a bit vague... I have searched from time to time for references to Mall portraits... most rewarding were Lon Haverly, Gerard Mineo, Stanley Hurr.

Grotius... if you can do a wiggly subject you are well on the way!
A portrait group would be great if you can find one... I also found that doing the face and body in 20 minute life drawing poses gave me the confidence that I could do just the face in 10.

Yes still doing the Mall a couple of Sundays a month... I'll post some of the recent ones here.


12-05-2007, 06:42 AM

This has been a really interesting thread. What a great way to get experience with faces. And as I live no more than 20mins from those markets, I'll have to drop in one Sunday and find you to draw my portrait.

I have just begun to try some portraits but need to get some 'live' experience. I am using pastels at this stage. Your idea of a portrait group is a good one. I'm a member of my local arts & crafts group - they might be a good place to start to get such a group together.

This was my first attempt at a live drawing but as it was my daughter washing her dishes she definitely didn't stay still. I did this for a scavenger hunt but didn't get the chance to post it.

I am working on a portrait of my father right now in pastel but he passed away in 96 and this is a gift for my stepmother for her 70th. So I suppose sometimes working from photos is okay?!

I have a friend who is always telling me to go to a life drawing class as it was what freed him up with his painting. There is an art gallery in my area that ran a life drawing class on Saturdays this term. I hope they do it again next year. After reading this thread I am even more inspired to do this.


12-06-2007, 12:40 PM
I'm finding this thread wonderful, too. I'm trying to get back into doing quick sketch portraits for money, and have been lost on what to charge, and what kind of pencil. This has answered a lot of my questions. I'm finding I have a lot of success in mimicking a real life drawing situation by drawing straight off the computer monitor. But then, I've already had a lot of experience in drawing from life.

For those who are nervous about doing portraits in public...like the ad says "Just do it". For one thing, once you're doing the portrait, you're concentrating on the picture and the model, not the crowds. Remember, even if you've had a little drawing practice, you're going to be more skilled than the public. I've found it encouraging because most of the time I hear people saying in back of me "She's so good", or "It looks just like him". It's real confidence builder.

Right now, I'm having a problem finding a place to actually do this. I've been thinking of craft fairs that don't charge to much to set up, except they're going to disappear after the holidays.

12-06-2007, 02:39 PM
Elaine, an Art Society or local Art group is the ideal way to get a portrait or life drawing group going, and they often/usually have premises, equipment and contacts... and it only takes one motivated person to get the ball rolling!

Your little sketch has captured all the flavour and action of washing up, if you are not used to live and moving people thats a pretty good effort!

I'll be at Windsor Markets two more times this month before Xmas and then the Markets close until February, I have thought of going down to the Mall sometime in January without the Markets and seeing what happens.

Roxy, pricing is always a tricky thing, can depend a bit on the area and location, and what you think people would be prepared to pay.
Craft Fairs may not last long, but that would be a good way to get the ball rolling again and then look for opportunities... perhaps tourist spots would be the best option.
Your portrait looks confidently done!


12-07-2007, 09:50 AM
Thanks Mac,

Thanks for starting this thread. I'm figuring I'm probably going to do like you and charge $5. I'd like to find a permanent place to set up, and I'll be looking for one after the holidays. The trouble here, (NYC) is there is a lot of competition in tourist areas.

I'm a little nervous about approaching stores about asking for space.

12-07-2007, 04:11 PM
Roxy, you have to work out a price that you are comfortable with... I have been told that I should be charging $20 - $30... my ridiculous price is just a part of my sinister strategy to get as much practice with portraits as I can, combined with an ideal of not wanting to charge until I can produce results that I am totally satisfied with.

Materials can be pretty cheap for this, I have been using copy paper... nice to draw on and acid free, but a bit flimsy. I recently found a heavier grade, 140lb instead of 80lb... but the company had stopped stocking it.
So I went to the supplier and found that I could get it cut, and it works out even cheaper... 1350 sheets of A4 and 200 sheets of A3 for about $200... nowthat should last a while!


12-09-2007, 03:47 PM
Thanks for the reply regarding pricing. It's a really hard question. I had been doing $20 portraits, but I didn't get many takers. I figured until I can find a permanent space, I can only charge what people would be willing to pay on an impulse. Either that, or my skills aren't good enough to charge that amount. I guess if I start out low, I can always go up, too.

12-10-2007, 02:28 AM
Roxy, yes if you start low you can always put the price up!
My preference is to sit there and be busy rather than maybe do just a few for a higher price... a busy day for me is between 20 and 30+, 14 or 15 is a nice unpressured number... but a low price is still not guarantee that you will get takers!

I've noticed that people are more inclined to stop if they see you actually drawing someone, and they also like to see an example of what you can do.