Painting Successful Portraits

24 Feb 2009

Q: I’m working on an oil portrait, but I’m having trouble getting the right tones. What colors do you recommend?

A:
Painting a successful portrait is similar to painting a successful still life. Assuming that the subject has one major light source, the values will deepen as the light source fades into the shadow area. These tones are generally cooler, and may be the complementary to the warm, lighter areas. You may want to use ultramarine blue or viridian green to create the cooler values. I suggest that you do your homework and look at portraits done by masters such as Rembrandt or more current artists such as David A. Leffel.

--by Camille LaPointe-Lyons


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