Saturday, July 26, 2008

Under my skin

One of the things that matters a lot to a portrait painter
is how to paint skin. In fact you don't really have to
think about it much. You paint skin the way you
see it, with all the same rules of lighting and shape and tone
you use painting an apple or a bowl, or a clear blue sky.

The Secret
acrylic on canvas

The difference is mood. If you like rules you can find them,
but the rules are about technique, and artists need to
be ruled by something deeper.

Face Detail
Before the Dance in the Red Dress
acrylic on canvas

The first time I experienced the deeper side to
drawing was at art school with a model called Ellen,
who could convey more dignity nude than most
people could in any type of dress.

To do a good portrait you have to feel a mood -- the
all encompassing mood that the sitter exudes.
I'm not talking about the ups and downs of a
given day, but a feeling the sitter gives to the artist
in word, gesture, posture and attitude to life.

To the close observer, and when you're painting portraits
you become a close observer, there are no right, and no
wrong colours for skin. And every person's skin is a
unique range of colours fitting into a broad spectrum
of possibilities.

Shorelines The Beaches
acrylic on canvas

But if you're really stuck on how to paint a subject's skin,
get a blank piece of paper and test your colours -- mix
the right proportion of what feels right for you, and go
for it. That's a beginning -- to get the result that will make
you happy, you need to follow your heart, your eyes, and your

acrylic on canvas

Have a loving-the-skin-you're-in night.

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Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!