|Eva Mullarky by Kristin Künc,
oil on linen, 9 x 13, 2011.
I can be a really hard sell when it comes to portraiture
because from a beginner painter's perspective, I'm not always sure how to get
the most out of a portrait painting session. So I wanted to talk to a close
friend and amazing portrait artist, Kristin Künc, about her portraiture teaching
and painting practice to get some insights into how to get the most out of any
portrait I decide to paint and how to make one a cut above the rest.
hairdo." As an artist who has spent hundreds if not thousands of hours working,
stresses that you can't underestimate the importance of eye-catching. If you
are doing just a standard head and shoulders portrait with no background, then
encourage the model to bring an interesting accessory to wear during the
session. It could be a scarf, earrings, a necklace, or even a unique hairdo. As
long as it catches the eye, you are on the right track.
"Shy, or outgoing, or
strange." A strong advocate for getting to know your model—even if just
setting aside a few minutes before the session for a brief conversation—Künc
encourages her students to paint the model the way they are. If they are
shy—don't have them look directly out. If they have a bolder disposition, they
can look right at you. If the person is strange or has a peculiar way about
them, use more dramatic lighting to accentuate their expression in a way that
heightens their look.
"Sounds old fashioned,
but..." Künc says that the one thing that differentiates a great
portrait is whether or not the underlying drawing for it is good. If not, it
won't matter how great the colors are or how interesting the brushwork is.
Another key necessity is a good light source where the lights and shadows are
clearly distinguished on the face.
|Portrait of Deiter
by Kristin Künc,
oil on linen, 10 x 12, 2011.
||Portrait of the Fortune Teller
by Kristin Künc,
oil on linen, 9 x 13, 2010.
"Get someone off the
||Hill Girl by Kristin Künc, oil on linen, 10 x 12, 2009.
Künc mentioned this to me in a tongue-in-cheek way, but she went on to
explain that what she meant was that when learning to do portraits, it can be
really helpful to not
family members, children, husband, or wife. These are the people who are apt to
be most critical, and that can be hard to take when starting out. If it is a
friend or stranger, you won't be emotionally attached and can approach the
painting relaxed and not worried, freeing yourself to make mistakes and learn
For Künc, portraiture is a way of challenging herself and
simultaneously doing what she loves, and isn't that all of us really want? So
if you want to further explore all that portraiture has to offer, you might be
interested in our DVDs on the topic: Mastering
Oil Portrait Painting with Ron Hicks, Mastering
Portrait Drawing with Susan Lyon, and Mastering
Watercolor Portraiture with Mary Whyte. Enjoy!