For a portrait artist seeking to create a likeness measuring is essential since it reveals the proportions.There are many systems of measurement including a grid placed over the subject that can be scaled up or down. We have explored the comparative method by simply measuring and comparing lengths, proportions and features. You create your own “piece of measurement”, such as an eye. This method trains us to draw any subject such as landscapes, figurative work and still lifes.
Since we have practiced using a “free” method of making loose gestural marks which help us get a feel of the subject, a place to get started, we can begin overlaying the intuitive gestures with more accurate measuring. For instance, how many “eyes” wide is the head? Is the nose an “eye wide”? Half of that? How about the forehead? Keep using the “eye wide” to develop all measurements.
Next comes blocking in the darks and allowing the negative space around the subject to often join with the darks within the subject. These joined shapes allow for lost and found edges and prevent the subject from feeling like a cut-out silhouette stuck on a background. This is also a place where the artist’s own “signature” marks come in to play using bold side strokes of the conte or charcoal or calligraphy marks of line and hatching.
The traditional conte palette (favored by the Old Masters) of sanguine which is a warm terra cotta, the chocolate brown of bistre, black and white gives a classic feel to portraiture and is a simplified range of cools and warms that occur throughout the head.
HOW TO – Finding a Likeness in Portraiture
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