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Old 12-01-2008, 08:38 PM
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ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Portraits – Lesson 1: The Eyes and Nose

Hello! Welcome to the first class in our new Portrait and Figure Fundamentals classroom! My name is Don Ketchek (a.k.a. DAK723) and I will be your teacher/host.

For those who read my invitation thread, the next few paragraphs will feel like déjà vu!

I am a firm believer in learning the fundamentals, so we will be starting with the basics in our first few classes. And hopefully, we will prove that FUNdamentals can be FUN (or at least makes a good slogan)!

Hopefully, even if you have some experience in drawing or painting portraits or figures, you will join in and participate. You might pick up a few tips, learn a thing or two that you didn’t know, or share with us some of your observations and methods. And while these classes will start with the basics, it is my hope and intent to include some painting “experiments” to enhance the basic lessons for those with more experience.

There is obviously a lot of material to cover with both portraits and figures as our topic. The plan for this classroom is to have a new “chapter” approximately every month. We will begin by focusing on the individual features of the face – eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Due to the amount of material, we will split this first chapter into two lessons – Lesson 1: The Eyes and Nose, and Lesson 2: The Mouth (and More).

Participation:

Everyone is welcome – no sign up needed. You can lurk, you can participate with posts, you can start now, you can start later, you can use this information purely for reference – whatever you want. You can do the exercises without posting, but then you will not get my encouragement or my advice! I will comment on your work only in the classroom thread so that everyone can benefit.

If you don’t do any of the practice exercises or post in lesson 1, there is no reason you can’t join in during lesson 2. Or even further down the road.

Please work at your own pace. There is no advantage to finishing first!

Materials you will need:

For lesson 1, you will need only a handful of pastels. We will be concentrating on value studies with some experimentation with warm and cool contrasts. You will need 4 or 5 different values of something in the “flesh color” range. A range of 4 or 5 values in a cool color like green, blue or violet would be helpful as well.


OK, new stuff starts now!

First Important Note:

One thing that I want to say - and I’m sure I will repeat many times – is that there are many ways to create art, many techniques, many ways to solve problems, etc. I will try to present various ways of doing things, but by no means should they be interpreted as the only way or the best way. In some cases it will simply be my way. Your way might be better, so I hope everyone will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions and (most of all) their artwork!

On the subject of different methods, this class will be focusing on values – values (sometimes referred to as “tone”) are the degree of lightness or darkness of something (imagine all the shades of gray in a black and white photo). The focus on values is often referred to as a “tonalist” approach. For those who have been participating in the most recent classroom (Still-Life the Colourful Way), you will find that this is a very different approach from the one used there. That class focused on color (or colour), often referred to as a “colorist” approach. I am afraid, since these two approaches are quite different, that this might be a bit confusing, especially to newcomers to painting. I want to make clear, that neither approach is better or worse, nor do you have to choose one over the other. The World of Art has room for many methods and approaches. I hope to try the colorist approach, now that I have learned about it from Charlie’s excellent class, but in this class I am using a tonalist approach because that is the one I know best!

Second Important Note:

In the following sections, I will be making various observations about the features of the face. Many of these observations are generalizations or guidelines. They should never supercede your actual observations of your subject, whether you are working from life or from photos.

On the subject of actual observations – let’s make some! And remember the most basic advice for all drawings or paintings – paint what you SEE, not what you THINK you see. In other words, we all have mental images of what things look like, especially things as familiar as the features of the face. Although it sounds simple, overcoming the mental image and painting what you see is perhaps the single most difficult thing to do consistently, even after many years of doing artwork.

And in portrait (and later, in figurative) work, I can not stress enough the importance of observation! You may spend MORE time observing your subject than painting. I’m serious!

Part 1: Observations

The Eye





My observations: The eye is close to symmetrical, but usually is not. The highest point (A) is usually inside (nose side) of center and the lowest point (B) is often to the outside of center. This is usually a very subtle asymmetry. Try not to exaggerate it!

The lower lid has a thickness and has a ridge (C) that is usually in the light. The top lid also has a noticeable overhang. (F).

Always remember that the eye is a sphere, where only a part is visible. Notice the shadow on the outside front view as the sphere starts turning away from the light. (E) Also, notice the cast shadow from the top eyelid.

In light colored eyes, the iris (the colored part) is slightly darker along the edge (D).

The white of the eye is often painted too white. Notice how much lighter the highlight is than the white of the eye.

The eye is one of the few things that is quite linear by nature, but drawing or painting eyes should be approached in the same way as virtually everything else – by representing the shapes of the shadow and light areas.

Next we move to a very non-linear feature, where shadow shapes are very important in depicting the form. I am talking about…the nose!


The Nose

Noses come in many shapes and sizes. Aside from the nostrils, there are no sharp edges or easily defined areas. The shadow shapes and any highlights will help define the form.

In its simplest form, the nose is a wedge shaped object that protrudes from the face. It is usually narrowest at the top (between the eyes) and becomes wider toward the mouth. The top of the wedge is bone, but the bottom part consists of a few areas of cartilage – the nostrils, the separator between the nostrils, and the tip of the nose – which are flexible and may move with the movement of the facial muscles. These cartilage areas tend to change with age, as well.





My observations: When seen from below (A), the nostrils usually point toward the tip of the nose.

As the nose turns (A, B, C) the center cartilage begins to block increasing amounts of the furthest nostril.

In profile, check the angle of the nostril. It does not necessarily follow the same direction as the contour of the bottom edge of the nose towards the tip.

Please, share any observations that you have made in your study of eyes and noses.

Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2008 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 12-01-2008, 08:50 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Part 2: Demonstrations

Here are the pastels I used for mine. As you can see, they are essentially 5 progressively darker values, all within a similar color scheme. (For the curious...they are Giraults).



My intent is to just lay in a basic value study, not concerning myself with color too much. When using a tonalist approach – the most important thing is to get the values right. If the values are right, you can use almost any color and things are still recognizable.

As mentioned earlier, I recommend starting every painting (regardless of subject) by mapping out the dark shapes and the light shapes. Start with the largest shapes, areas or masses. Avoid the temptation to get into details until the later stages. Simplify! When looking at the photo of the eye, I look for the very general shapes of the shadows and lights. I have outlined the major shadow shape below. This will be the general shape I paint to start.



If you are new to pastels, here are some general guidelines on pastel application.

You will probably want to use a textured paper or one with tooth (like sandpaper). That texture or tooth will hold the pastel material in place. For that reason, you do not want to fill up that texture or tooth at an early stage of the painting because you will add more layers of pastel as you go. So, in the early stages of a pastel painting, to avoid filling up the texture or tooth, you might want to use harder (as opposed to softer brands of) pastels. Also, or if you only have softer pastels, using a very light touch will help avoid filling up the tooth of the paper. For the final layers, the softer pastels will be easier to apply than harder pastels.

Now, while the usual recommendation is to use good pastel paper, in this class we will be doing practice pieces, studies and experiments, so if you have any dented, ripped, bent scraps or leftover pieces of paper, those will be perfect to use here!



My first example, on velour:

Stage 1 – establish values

Starting with a medium dark pastel (the second from the left in my pastel photo), I blocked in that shadow shape. In essence, I am starting with a one-value drawing of the shadow shapes to establish the correct size and location of the features and the shadow areas. It can be very loose, or more tightly rendered, it’s up to you. But keep in mind, if you get too detailed now, you will waste a lot of time and effort if you have to make major modification later due to incorrect placement of the features and shapes. Once, I have established my darks, I use a light pastel to block in the light areas. At this stage, I may use my lighter pastel to cover some of the darks in order to refine and make corrections. I did a bit of blending to establish a bit of the intermediate values. I might also use (but didn’t in this example) some of the intermediate pastels for the in-between values. I then added the darkest value and the highlight last, but again there is no definite order.

Now, you may have a favorite way of starting that is completely different – and that’s OK! I have art books by excellent artists that don’t start this way, so it is definitely not a rule!



Stage 2 – wider range of colors added

As my painting progresses, I might add more color to blend in with, or completely cover, areas that are already painted, but if I already have the correct value down on paper, it is easier to choose a color that has an equal value. Here I have added some greens to the eye. I have chosen pastels that are similar in value to the areas I am covering. I can also make value adjustments as I go along. How much you progress the painting – you could stop after Stage 1 if you want – is totally up to you.



Here’s another example, on Fabriano Tiziano paper. This paper is similar to Canson; it has texture, but not tooth. It is from the photo by Rod (see below) from the reference library.




Stage 1: Once again, I started with the darker value shapes, then I added the light shapes. Again, you can do these two steps in any order, or simultaneously. At this stage, I am more concerned with the larger shapes (both shadow shapes and light shapes) than details. All the shapes are simplified.

Stage 2: Lots of people dislike this type of paper because the texture is often visible and hard to cover. Personally, I almost always blend with my fingers on this type of paper, especially in the early stages, to get the pastel to cover the paper. Yes, it is OK to blend with your fingers! Just remember, if you blend with your fingers you have to wash your hands frequently to avoid transferring the wrong color from finger to artwork.

Stage 3: Using my 3 other pastels (2 intermediate values and my 1 darkest pastel), I add color and refine the shapes. At this stage, the pastel itself acts as a blender when covering over or next to an existing color.

Potential Questions:

Q. What if I have trouble establishing the shadow shapes?

I would recommend a couple things: First, try to light your subject (or find a photo) with fairly strong (but not black), well defined shadows. Lighting that is slightly (or more) from the side will usually work better than a frontal light source. Avoid multiple light sources, especially as a beginner. A frontal flash is also to be avoided, as it will probably wash out almost all the shadows. The second bit of advice is one you’ve probably heard before – squint! Squinting at your subject increases the contrast between the light and dark values.

Computer programs can also be used as a tool to help us with our artwork when using photo references. Increasing contrast or color saturation can help us identify values and colors that may be too subtle to see clearly. One can also identify colors by zooming in or taking color samples. Here are a couple examples:



(1) is a photo from the reference library taken by Rod. (2) has been manipulated by increasing the contrast. (3) was done using the Posterize command in Photoshop. Experiment with your computer programs. You may find other tools that will help you in your art creation. Let us know if you find some other useful filters or tools.

Q. I am used to drawing lines and outlines. The idea of “shapes” is giving we trouble. Can you help?

If you have trouble with the concept of shapes, there a couple tips you can try. First, use the side of your pastel instead of the point. This will automatically make you create larger shapes and keep you from making lines. (This idea may work better with a feature other than the eye, as it is quite linear.) Practice looking for shapes of similar value in your reference.

Now, if working on shapes and values with a somewhat monochromatic color scheme is all you want to practice right now, that’s fine – I worked fairly monochromatically for YEARS before I began to use a wider color palette. (OK, in all honesty, my paintings are still fairly monochromatic!)

Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2008 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 12-01-2008, 08:59 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Part 3: Let’s enter the Laboratory for our ...“experiments”:

As I mentioned in my introduction, to try to accommodate painters with different experience levels, I will try to introduce some “experiments” to go beyond the basics. Does this mean a total newbie can’t do those experiments – no, of course not! While I recommend starting simpler for the beginner, you can approach these exercises any way you want! Feel free to skim, or skip over the next part.

Here is where I become “host” as much as “teacher”, for I hope to learn as much from these experiments as everyone else! Again, remember, these are just practice exercises. So feel free to experiment as wildly as you want!

Rather than painting the facial features with a limited color palette as in my first examples, let’s try using the approach of using warm colors (colors predominantly in the yellow-orange-red range) in the light areas and cool (greens/blues/violets) in the shadows. This approach of using contrasting colors (warm vs. cool) is a popular approach in landscape and still life painting as well as in painting portraits/figures.

Here’s mine, done on Fabriano Taziano with Prismacolor pastels. Once again, I started with the medium dark value, in this case the blue in the middle. Then I worked in the lights, and then added the violet and the darker blue and brown (furthest right in the photo). The eye highlight is done with a very light green which I forgot to include in the photo. The other greens are a mix of the yellowish flesh color and the blue.



Now, once again, one can take the painting further if one desires. If the complete division of warm and cool is a bit extreme, one can always add in more flesh tones or other colors, blend them in or cover what is there. I’ve tried to let some of my cools show through, blended others and covered some as well. Since the basic values are established, it will be easier to add colors that have a similar value to what is already on your painting.



In my second example, I started with the painting of Rod that I did earlier and added the blues and violet to the existing somewhat monochromatic colors. So my cools colors are blended with the browns and reds that were already there.






Note about warm/cool and contrast in painting:


The subject of warm and cool colors can often be very confusing, not just to beginners, but to all artists. I think that this is because the terms are used in two separate but related ways. In a general descriptive way, warm colors are usually described as the range from yellow to red on the color wheel and cool colors from green to violet. In a relative way, any color can be warmer and cooler when compared to another color. So the same terms (warm and cool) are used as a general description or as a relative comparison. In this lesson, I will be using the terms in the general description way only. Another point of confusion is that the terms are not that precise and subject to some interpretation. Some artists consider green to be neither warm nor cool, but neutral. Others consider red to be a neutral color also. For the sake of simplicity, in this classroom, we will consider yellow to red-violet as warm and yellow-green to violet as cool.

We will discuss contrasts more in subsequent lessons, but contrasts are used to increase the vibrancy or intensity of colors and values. They are one of an artist’s greatest tools. The contrast between light and dark is probably fairly obvious – if you place a light value next to a very dark value, it will look lighter than when placed next to a medium value. A warm color will seem warmer and more intense when placed next to a cool color. The most intense contrast of color occurs when using colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. As most of you know, these opposite colors are called complementary colors. We will do some complementary color experiments in upcoming classes.

OK, enough technical stuff...

Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2008 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 12-01-2008, 09:10 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Part 4: Let’s Paint!

Now it’s your turn! Use any of the photos above, or the photos that I have picked out from the reference library (below). Or grab a friend or family member, or use yourself as a model! Have fun! Don’t worry about the end result – after all, it’s just a nose, or an eye - not a finished portrait!

Exercises:

If you want, you can do monochromatic value studies (similar to my Stage 1 painting).

You can take it to Stage 2, by adding a fuller range of color.

You can experiment using a warm/cool palette.

Remember, for this lesson, we are doing eyes and noses (or both)!


Photo by terence p

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=


Photo by terence p

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=


Photo by Rod

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=



Photo by devymarie

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=

Thanks to Anda G for the eye photos from the reference library.
Thanks to terence p, Rod, and devymarie for their photos from the reference library.

Let's Paint!

Post your examples here in this thread. It is OK to combine more than one practice piece in your post. Ask any and all questions you may have.

Share your observations. As I mentioned before, we can all learn from one another.

And don't hesitate to ask questions. If anything is unclear or needs further clarification, let me know!

Don
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Old 12-01-2008, 09:23 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Let me start the posting by thanking everyone for their patience! I said I would start Dec. 1st, but forgot that the internet goes all around the world and for some of you it is already Dec. 2nd!

Don
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:16 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

You should be given a medal just for putting this much together. Who cares what day it is. What you have begun with is a little different from the process my portrait instructor started with. She began with the basic egg shape of the head and had us draw a skull in the second class! So it will be interesting to put what I learned from her with what you have here.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:35 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

HI..Guess I will start us off... I agree with sonni.. wonderful what you are doing.. I have been wanting to work on features for quiet some time.. and hope to do lots more... Thank you!! this one I started with the darks.. then lights, lastly middle tones.. then back to darks, middle. lights.. trying to think about value shapes & cool & warm.. the first one I blended with finger (I dont usually blend).. the next photo I took one step further..I took a hard pastel stick(sort of a light golden color) & cross hatched to blend, as I felt the darks were too dominant....Now I feel I should go back and re-establish the darks & highlights, especially in the eyes??... I want to try and do each ref..Next time trying to stick closer to instructions.. I got a little carried away with color I think? I see lots I could work on, & I wouldnt call this finished, but a sketch/study..( an overworked sketch, in my eyes)Please comment .. crits is how we will all learn & grow!!...I am excited to see everyones work!

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Old 12-02-2008, 07:55 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Don, great class!

Allow me to underline, support what you said, and say something more on the tonalist vs the colorist approach. Especially for those participating in both classes.

The biggest difference I see is that in the colourist approach, plane changes are indicated by colourchanges. In most of the cases, there is a tonalist approach hidden underneath, if I may express it that way. Tonalism is a gradual shift in value using the same 'colour', or pigment (with white added, or with thinner layers). Colourists change colour too, but if one gets the colour right, one gets the value right. That is the 'hidden values' part.

Both approaches, tonalist and colourist, may enrich each other.

And I'll definitely follow Don's instructions and paint tonally in this class (at least in the beginning ).

Don, thank you again for a superb start of your class!

Charlie

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAK723
On the subject of different methods, this class will be focusing on values – ..... a “tonalist” approach. For those who have been participating in the most recent classroom (Still-Life the Colourful Way), ..... often referred to as a “colorist” approach.

I am afraid, since these two approaches are quite different, that this might be a bit confusing, especially to newcomers to painting. I want to make clear, that neither approach is better or worse, nor do you have to choose one over the other. .....
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:56 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Don..Thank you for doing this!
Sorry for the red words....something happend

I think this was difficult...I have a tendency to overwork...To hard hand...And I did not have the correct colors. I am not satisfied with this one but hope to get better.
Here it is...

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Last edited by Mette Rörström : 12-02-2008 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:06 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonni
You should be given a medal just for putting this much together. Who cares what day it is. What you have begun with is a little different from the process my portrait instructor started with. She began with the basic egg shape of the head and had us draw a skull in the second class! So it will be interesting to put what I learned from her with what you have here.

I will admit that we will be doing things a bit backwards. I thought it would be more interesting (and fun) to do the features first, so that's what we will do in the first 2 classes. Then we will step back and look at the whole head and discuss measuring and laying things out. That's the plan, anyway! Thanks for the medal!

Don
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:14 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Maw-T,

Not surprisingly, having seen your portraits in the past, this is excellent!

I think you are correct in wanting to go back in with a bit more dark, but it is really a minor issue. Color is good! I don't think there is too much at all.

The only thing that I notice right off is the eyes slant slightly downward toward the outside. It looks like his eyes should be very straight across.

Nice work!

Don

Quote:
Originally Posted by maw-t
HI..Guess I will start us off... I agree with sonni.. wonderful what you are doing.. I have been wanting to work on features for quiet some time.. and hope to do lots more... Thank you!! this one I started with the darks.. then lights, lastly middle tones.. then back to darks, middle. lights.. trying to think about value shapes & cool & warm.. the first one I blended with finger (I dont usually blend).. the next photo I took one step further..I took a hard pastel stick(sort of a light golden color) & cross hatched to blend, as I felt the darks were too dominant....Now I feel I should go back and re-establish the darks & highlights, especially in the eyes??... I want to try and do each ref..Next time trying to stick closer to instructions.. I got a little carried away with color I think? I see lots I could work on, & I wouldnt call this finished, but a sketch/study..( an overworked sketch, in my eyes)Please comment .. crits is how we will all learn & grow!!...I am excited to see everyones work!

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Old 12-02-2008, 09:19 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Thank you Charlie! I am really glad you are participating, because I know you will add much to this class! I look forward to seeing how you will blend your colorist approach to my tonalist approach doing portraits and figures! And thank you for any further clarifications and discussion on the differences (and similarities) between the two approaches.

Don

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorix
Don, great class!

Allow me to underline, support what you said, and say something more on the tonalist vs the colorist approach. Especially for those participating in both classes.

The biggest difference I see is that in the colourist approach, plane changes are indicated by colourchanges. In most of the cases, there is a tonalist approach hidden underneath, if I may express it that way. Tonalism is a gradual shift in value using the same 'colour', or pigment (with white added, or with thinner layers). Colourists change colour too, but if one gets the colour right, one gets the value right. That is the 'hidden values' part.

Both approaches, tonalist and colourist, may enrich each other.

And I'll definitely follow Don's instructions and paint tonally in this class (at least in the beginning ).

Don, thank you again for a superb start of your class!

Charlie
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:22 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Mette,

Thanks for joining us! This is excellent! You must have done portraits before! Don't worry too much about the colors, these seem to work just fine!

Don


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mette Rörström
Don..Thank you for doing this!
Sorry for the red words....something happend

I think this was difficult...I have a tendency to overwork...To hard hand...And I did not have the correct colors. I am not satisfied with this one but hope to get better.
Here it is...

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Old 12-02-2008, 02:53 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

Thank you,Don!
I had to do another one...I used the same pastels/colors that I used for the first one. And still they are so different.

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Old 12-02-2008, 03:22 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 1

here's an effort at the teen in blue hat. critique, por favor

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