Portrait Painting

. The Misses Vickers by John Singer Sargent, oil on canvas, 54.25 x 72.01.
The Misses Vickers by John Singer Sargent,
oil on canvas, 54.25 x 72.01.
.

Portraiture is the genre of painting in which the likeness of a sitter or model is depicted by the artist. Historically, portrait paintings were often commissioned by the well-to-do or powerful, but artists will also create portrait art when they find a compelling model or want to commemorate a person with the work.

In the contemporary art world, portraiture as status symbol is less and less prevalent. Instead, artists explore portrait painting because of the challenges inherent in painting a person's likeness while capturing their personality and spirit, and the pleasure in the pursuit of painting the human figure and face. Rarely are painted portraits judged solely by the accuracy of the depiction. Instead, artists try to eke out the emotional character on the visage of their model.

Compositionally, portrait art can vary—the sitter can be sitting or standing; clothed or nude; full length, half length, or a bust view of the head and shoulders; and depicted in profile, in a three-quarters’ view, or facing directly out. Portraits can be formal affairs, with figures in their best clothes and presented in commanding ways, but they can also be more informal with a slice-of-life feel that allow the viewer to feel as if they are seeing inside the private world of the sitter.

Throughout the centuries, portrait painting has been a reliable and sometimes very lucrative business for artists. Painters would often become famous because of their portraits, elevating their status in the wider world. Famous portrait artists include Diego Velazquez, Rembrandt, Ingres, Thomas Eakins, Anthony Van Dyck, and John Singer Sargent.


The First Crucial Steps of Portraiture

The composite image for Herrick's portrait painting commission, based on the reference photos he shot with the clients. .
The composite image for Herrick's portrait painting
commission, based on the reference photos he
shot with the clients.
.
.

More Portrait Resources:

Create Dynamic Paintings with Mixed Media

Watercolor Portraits of the South

Mary Whyte

Portrait Painting Duo

Portrait Painting Duo

Daniel Gerhartz , Scott Burdick

Mastering Portrait Drawing

Mastering Portrait Drawing

with Susan Lyon

Mastering Watercolor Portraiture

Mastering Watercolor Portraiture

Mary Whyte

The first step in portraiture is always meeting the client or model. Sometimes, if you are a professional, this can come through an agent, like a local representative of Portrait Source (a portrait broker).

The next step is to have a discussion on where the portrait should be set. Sometimes the client is "in charge" of this aspect of the portrait painting, as they are paying for the service, but sometimes the artist is in charge and places the model where he or she desires.

Often the best way of deciding where to set the scene of a portrait painting is to start looking through your viewfinder. From there you can, settle on a pose and take reference photos. The best portrait artists allow their models inclinations to guide them in terms of the chosen pose or composition.

Garth Herrick reflects on a recent portrait painting experience of his, when he was trying to decide where to have his three young sitters pose: "There were so many good choices for settings! It was amazing that we so quickly narrowed the pose down to the kids sitting and standing on the rock, considering that all areas of their place were just spectacular.

"The kids gravitated toward that particular rock. The client's original idea was to have them sitting in a porch swing, which was nice, but it didn't really inspire me, especially as there was a blank stucco wall behind the swing. I wanted more contrast with the kids' white clothes. The dark evergreen foliage behind the rocks where we eventually settled was more interesting. I took a lot of pictures that day, and met with the clients to review the photos on my computer. We decided that we wanted to take some more photos. It was sunnier the second time, so the weather conditions became more of a challenge.

Once I settled on the reference photos, I spent a few days combining them into a composite image in Photoshop. All of the photos used in the composite image were taken on the second day because of the different lighting conditions on that day. I mostly worked in Photoshop the day after I took the photos, but I kept rethinking things and fine-tuning the image. Although the client approved my first version, I kept tweaking, and they approved each subsequent version.

From an article by Garth Herrick.


A Portraiture 'Must'

. Jillian by Wende Caporale, 2003, oil portrait painting, 7 x 5.
Jillian by Wende Caporale, 2003,
oil portrait painting, 7 x 5.
.

During her portraiture workshops, Wende Caporale takes a considerable amount of time to offer tips on drawing the human head accurately. "Even if you work from photographs in your portrait painting, it is very important to be able to draw well," she tells her students. "You have to be aware of photographs' inherent distortions and be able to adjust them accordingly. Furthermore, drawing skills are critical in making adjustments during all stages of the portrait painting process."

Using a piece of vine charcoal, Caporale made quick drawings of members of the class to demonstrate how an artist can use the average proportions of the head to determine how a specific model's features may vary from that norm. "The standard proportions divide the head into three equal units of measure from the forehead to the eyebrows, from the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose, and from the nose to the bottom of the chin," she explained. "When you look at a sitter with the eye of a portrait painter you can judge how those relationships might be different, and that gives you a clue as to how to draw or paint a likeness. For example, if you recognize that the person's forehead is larger than most, you can draw or paint it that way. Knowing several other standard proportional relationships will also help you judge the placement of the ears, the width of the mouth, and the distance between the eyes, for instance, because those averages help you determine the specific proportions of your subject.

"Some portrait artists find it helpful to draw straight or angular lines rather than curving lines because those can sometimes be easier to use when judging distances," Caporale added. "That is, lines indicating the top, bottom, and side of the head can be useful when determining the placement of the head on the canvas, and straight lines drawn from the head to the edges of the shoulders can aid in accurately putting a neck and chest below the head. You can use whatever system helps you arrive at an accurate drawing, but the most important thing is to be confident that you have the right framework on which to build your oil portrait."

Caporale's drawing demonstrations are usually done on a 16"-x-20" sheet of paper because she finds it to be the most comfortable size for head-and-shoulders portrait paintings of children. A student in the workshop asked Caporale to clarify a remark she made about using a plumb line to evaluate the lines of a drawing. She responded by explaining that portrait artists use a variety of tools, including weighted strings, rulers, pencils, and paintbrushes, held in front of their eyes to judge the lines of their drawings against horizontal or vertical lines. "The point is to determine if your drawing is slanting one way or another and whether you have the features properly aligned," she said. "You can use an actual carpenter's plumb or just hold a pencil in front of your eyes at a 90-degree or 180-degree angle to your line of vision to make those determinations."

From an article by Stephen Doherty.

 

Think Exaggeration in Your Portraiture--But Maybe Don't Paint That Way

. Sita and Sarita by Cecilia Beaux, 1893, oil painting, 37 x 25
Sita and Sarita by Cecilia Beaux, 1893,
oil painting, 37 x 25.
.

I'll be the first to argue that caricature and portraiture are completely different types of art, but both use many of the same strategies that can make fine art portrait painting and portrait drawings memorable.

At its most essential, a caricature is an exaggeration or distortion of a person's physical characteristics, but it is still a study of a person's physicality. We've all seen the boardwalk artists at the beach who draw quick caricature sketches in a handful of minutes. The artist gets the shape of the face and accentuates two or three physical features of the sitter and voila, a caricature.

Although fine art portraiture takes longer to create, an oil portrait painter still uses the same approach. First, it is essential to get the shape of the head right. This is a crucial step because it determines how the head sits on the neck and leads into the torso, and how the features sit on the face. Think of how you are able to recognize a friend or acquaintance from across the street. The same rule applies for a portrait; the sitter will be recognized first from their big ol' noggin.

With a caricature, the artist will usually exaggerate a person's features-eyes, lips, chin, ears, or hair, even freckles or big eyelashes. It always varies, but usually the artist doesn't emphasize everything and only select one or two features for the biggest impact. Fine art portrait artists should work in the same way. Not in terms of exaggerating the size or proportion of a person's features, but drawing attention to certain aspects of a person with color, light and shadow, and brushstrokes.

Looking at a model and first thinking of how you'd draw their caricature can really open up ypur mind to what you could showcase in their portrait. And, just like caricatures, a portrait that visually "heightens" certain aspects of a person's looks will certainly stand out from the crowd.

From an article by Courtney Jordan.

 

Resources

Free eBook
How to Paint a Portrait: 38 Portrait Painting Techniques from Artist Daily

 


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  • Darren Kingsley Self-Portraiture: An Essential Artist's Exercise Regardless of style, artists are known to return time and again to working from the life model. The human form speaks to us on an instinctual level and offers a wellspring of fresh inspiration
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  • Every time I get on Artist Daily I am a little bowled over by the strides and accomplishments we all are making in our art. I get the same feeling when I look at the winners of the Utrecht 3rd Annual Art Competition , whose winners were just announced
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  • Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard (attributed), 1585. I can only imagine the excitement and thrill of sitting for any one of the great portrait painters in history such as Bronzino, Velazquez, and Sargent. But then my mind goes directly
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  • ...are ones that paint self-portraits. As we all well know, artists have a lot of firepower at their disposal. It comes from being trained to look critically and creatively at the things you see. For an artist to turn that kind of acuity on him- or herself
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  • This December, Signilar —the maker of top notch art instruction videos—is hosting a painting workshop led by portrait artist Judith Carducci in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. To gush just a lil' bit, this seems like an amazing opportunity
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  • Under the Awning by Joaquin Sorolla, oil painting, 1910. "There is nothing truer than truth. All the mistakes committed by great artists are due to their having separated themselves from truth, believing that their imagination is stronger...There
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  • Reflect Your True Vision with Accurate Form Now you can paint the human form with the depth and detail it deserves - your artwork will come alive with this exciting special issue from American Artist: Portrait and Figure Painting Highlights Fall 2010. Improve the detail of your portraits with 100 pages
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  • I'll be honest with you all--I am not a painting technician. I read a lot about art and, as you know, love to look at paintings and drawings all day long, but I am still a babe in the woods when it comes to many methods and approaches to painting
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  • And I am! I'm calling myself out on the carpet. I've got a handful of mirrors in my apartment and don't take advantage of what is right in front of me. Which is why I'm fired up about getting people to do more self-portraits--including
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  • This issue marks the 25th Anniversary of Watercolor. To celebrate, we present 25 tips, 25 painting locations, and 25 tools that today's top watermedia painters say they can't do without. We also take a look at the innovations of early practitioners and trace the masterful use of watercolor throughout
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  • Sarah Simblet (her pen drawing, Isis 38 , above) taught me a lot about how intertwined the semblance of motion and mark-making are in really good drawings. Maybe it is part of having an arts career or maybe it is just me, but I love books and magazines
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  • Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 1. Marjorie Forgues' figure drawing, day 2. Taking a painting or drawing class is always a learning experience, but often I find I learn a great deal from other artists in the class as well. This is especially
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  • My version of an art "mixed tape" is a bunch of really great info and inspiration for us as we head into the home stretch of summer. Here are several of my favorite recent Artist Daily blog entries and American Artist online articles that have
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  • Portrait of Ginevra di Benci by Leonardo da Vinci, 1474-1476, oil painting on wood, 16.5 x 14.5. I've described the most important technical parts of my study of Da Vinci: line and anatomy . When I began to study how to paint, I opted not to follow
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  • Up the Block by Rose Frantzen, oil painting, 40 x 50. Rose Frantzen: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Rose Frantzen 's peers hold her in especially high regard as an artist's artist. In her 25 years as a full-time painter, she has also gained
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  • Glass Study 3 by Stephen Early, oil painting on masonite, 7 x 5. Stephen Early: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Artist Stephen Early began his art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He has received many notable portrait
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  • The Den by Scott Waddell, oil painting, 20 x 16. Scott Waddell: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Scott Waddell was born and raised in Central Florida. He received his B.F.A. from Florida State University. After college, Waddell spent the next several
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  • Portrait of His Holiness, John Paul II by Nelson Shanks, 2001, oil painting on canvas, 54 x 50. Nelson Shanks: Weekend With the Masters Instructor One of the most sought after teachers and portrait painters in the world and founder of the post-graduate
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  • Persian Archer by Dan Thompson, 18 x 28, oil painting, 2004. Dan Thompson: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Dan Thompson was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from the Corcoran School of Art, in Washington, DC. He earned his M.F.A. from the
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  • Figure Throwing Ball by Rob Liberace, chalk drawing on paper, 24 x 36. Rob Liberace: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Robert Liberace is considered by many to be a contemporary classicist, equally accomplished in sculpture, drawing, and painting and
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  • The Love on the Road by Ron Hicks, oil painting. Ron Hicks: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Ron Hicks grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and was introduced to art at an early age under the influence of his artist mother. Continuing to pursue drawing through
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  • Throughout his career, Richard Schmid has promoted art education through his books, articles, workshops, seminars, and television presentations. Richard Schmid: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Richard Schmid was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1934.
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  • Thinking Man by Jacob Collins, oil painting, 30 x 20, 2004. Jacob Collins: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Jacob Collins is a leading figure in the contemporary revival of classical painting. He earned a B.A. in history from Columbia College and attended
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  • This is the third year that American Artist has partnered with Utrecht for their Third Annual Art Competition , and it looks like the prizes are the best yet. The grand prize winner receives a six-week scholarship to Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia
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  • Wilson uses the visual world as a lexicon of poetic images, as in his painting, Mary . In the 19th century, painters depicted modern life, embracing the “real” and eschewing narrative subjects and symbolism. Now, modern figure painters are
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  • Point Lobos , oil, 12 x 16. All works by Matt Smith . Have you ever had a moment where you’ve stumbled on something unexpected and you think to yourself, “What a find!” That was so me a few days ago. I read an amazing Q&A that one
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  • 10 Keys To Making Accurate Judgments; Use Measurements & Simple Shapes for Better Portraits; Learn Variations of Impressionist Painting; 4 Stages Of Successful Plein Air Paintings
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  • When we start making art, we don't start from a position of, "I want to paint like so-and-so," or not even, necessarily, "I want to paint well." We should start from a position of, "I have a need to make art." This is an important principle; it gives us the strength
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  • Learn more about Mary Whyte’s full-length DVD. I'm a reader and studier by nature, but the lessons and techniques that I learn from books and magazines always seem to click much quicker when I watch an artist paint, rather than try to puzzle
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  • The Lonely Man by Clark Hulings Last week, we received some surprising and very sad news in the American Artist office. The widely-admired landscape painter Clark Hulings had passed away at the age of 88. We learned this less than a day after finishing
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  • Imagine breaking down even the most complex painting into just a handful of shapes. Painter Ron Hicks has found that the process of painting a portrait can be intimidating, if not overwhelming, to even the most practiced painters because a lot of detail is often confused with what makes a successful
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  • Trying to capture the likeness of a person in a finite period of time and meeting the high expectations often associated with portraiture are far from effortless tasks. They take commitment and savvy to do well. Our eBook Oil Painting Lessons on How to Paint a Portrait: 15 Portrait Painting Techniques
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  • I had the pleasure of meeting artist Christopher Pugliese recently, and thumbed through the catalog—hot off the presses—that will soon be out to accompany his solo museum show at the New Britain Museum of American Art . The exhibition, New/Now: Christopher Pugliese Paintings and Drawings
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  • Reflect Your True Vision with Accurate Form Now you can paint the human form with the depth and detail it deserves – your artwork will come alive with this exciting special issue from American Artist: Portrait and Figure Painting Highlights Fall 2010. Improve the detail of your portraits with 100
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  • Mary Whyte was interviewed on CBS on Sunday about an inspiring portraiture project she's been work on. I got goosebumps! Go Mary! Plus! Our workshop DVD with Mary Whyte is available now!
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  • Painting instructors often ask students to consider two important relationships between the colors squeezed out on their palettes: value and temperature. By that they are asking them to consider whether one color mixture is lighter or darker than another, and whether the mixtures tend to have a warm
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  • I recently joined a gym in my neighborhood, with the hopes of working off some of those extra holiday pounds that seem to wear out their welcome around this time every year. My schedule is pretty busy, so I try to streamline my visits, making a beeline
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  • I've written a number of articles on artists who use the sight-size approach to painting, but the method became clearer to me while I was writing an article on Paul DeLorenzo for the spring 2010 issue of Workshop . The procedure is to stand a measured
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  • 1000+ Great Workshops & Art Classes Our 47th Annual Directory; Be Guided By Your Artistic Voice; Combine & Enhance Images With Acrylic Paints & Mediums; Interpret Reality With Colored Pencils
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  • I rather enjoy making New Year's resolutions; however, I've come to the conclusion that artists would do better making flexible plans rather than writing goals in stone. It seems that my business plans are better off being designed around themes
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  • I recently had to select five security questions in order to gain access to a website, one of which asked me to name the most famous person I’ve met. That got me thinking about the fact that artists often brush shoulders with prominent individuals
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  • Although revered for his portrait work and known for being an artistic rival of his contemporary John Singer Sargent, Philip de László also painted landscapes, and one of the first known film documentations of an artist painting en plein air depicts him. That film clip of the artist painting
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  • Check out what's featured in the December 2009 issue of American Artist .
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  • Antonio Masi employs both the atmospheric and graphic capabilities of watercolor in his commanding paintings of New York icons.
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  • I recently traveled to Boston to see the blockbuster exhibition of paintings by the great 16th-century Venetian painters Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese that I wrote about several months ago in this blog post . While I was in the Museum of Fine Arts
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  • In the new atelier she opened in Rome, Andrea J. Smith teaches students to use a limited palette of colors when painting exactly what they see from a measured distance away from the subject and the easel.
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  • Find out about American Artist's Reader Advisory Panel.
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  • In honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage, the art community prepares to celebrate the extraordinary history of painting along the Hudson River.
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  • As an American Artist editor, I'm privy to a multitude of art-related news items—far more than could ever be covered in print or on our website—but some of the more interesting stories are the ones I find outside of my role at the magazine
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  • Steve Doherty offers his suggestions for ways artists can increase the probability that their drawings and paintings will express their passion.
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  • The Table of Contents for the July/August 2009 issue of American Artist.
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  • The Table of Contents for the Summer 2009 issue of Workshop magazine.
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  • Steve Doherty talks about the importance eyes hold to creating a successful portrait and explains some of the procedures successful portraitists use to execute their paintings. He also offers readers an opportunity to help the art community by participating in a survey.
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  • Q: I Recently saw some paintings by Deborah Deichler and liked the results she gets through her glazing techniques with oil. Since I have not been able to find a book written by her, can you recommend a book or other teaching aid for that kind of work
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  • Christopher Lee, a staff writer for The Washington Post , wrote an article titled “ Official Portraits Draw Skeptical Gaze ” for the October 21, 2008 edition of the newspaper that was quickly picked up by CNN and other news organizations.
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  • by Allison Malafronte Every month I allow you to come into my cube for a few minutes and “listen in” on a conversation I had with a top plein air painter. I try to ask the artist the questions I think you as aspiring professional plein air
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  • We have provided a list of links to online art resources that we think are helpful. You can also access these links in the Art Educators section of our website. Art Associations Plein Air Plein Air Painters of America The Plein Air Scene Indiana Plein
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  • Warm-up exercises are as important for artists as they are for musicians and athletes. by Daniel Grant Warm-ups for artists often involve being spontaneous, loosening up your muscles, and letting go. But jogging might work too! Athletes stretch before
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  • Hundreds of artists from around the country sent in submissions for American Artist’s 2008 Cover Competition, and the editors narrowed the selection down to the 10 they thought best captured the skill level and style of our publication. When those
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  • During a recent workshop, New York artist Max Ginsburg showed students how to respond to the specific lighting effects they observed rather than to use premixed colors and repetitive procedures. by M. Stephen Doherty Ginsburg made adjustments to the balance
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  • We chose 10 finalists for our Drawing Magazine Cover Competition—and then easily named William Rose the winner, as he best showcased the skill level and imagination of our readers. View the winners of the Watercolor magazine 2008 cover competiton
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  • During a recent plein air workshop in Southern France, Judith Carducci helped students who worked with pen-and-ink, pastel, watercolor, and oil colors. The unifying themes of the 10-day class were that drawing basics are a foundation of all media and
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  • During a recent plein air workshop in Southern France, Judith Carducci helped students who worked with pen-and-ink, pastel, watercolor, and oil colors. The unifying themes of the 10-day class were that drawing is a foundation of all media and working
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  • In the Fall 2007 issue of Workshop magazine, we presented Daniel E. Greene's approach to teaching drawing and painting in art-school classes, short-term workshops, and filmed programs. Here we reproduce the article from the November 2007 issue of
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  • Stephen Bennett moved from New York to Mexico 15 years ago and started painting large, colorful acrylic paintings of people in his newfound community. He discovered a new direction for his life and his art, one that allows him to connect with portrait
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  • Several established contemporary artists have approached the subject of self-portraiture in different ways, depicting who they are or who they wish to be at various times in their lives. by Ephraim Rubenstein Self-Portrait, Matisse Print by Mary Beth
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  • C.W. Mundy teaches his students to paint effective portraits. Here, we look more closely at his innovative technique for painting portraits from upside-down photographs in this step-by-step demonstration of Bourbon Street Chef, New Orleans. Step 1 Mundy
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  • Artists looking to work with pastel can learn valuable techniques and tips by studying artists who first explored the medium and discovered the possibilities the medium offers. by Naomi Ekperigin Although the work of oil painters and draftsmen is well
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  • Carefully choosing the right drawing tools for a given subject gives a draftsman a tremendous advantage. by Bob Bahr CLOCKWISE FROM TOP A bottle of walnut ink and a bamboo pen, four colors of Conté crayons (bistre, sanguine, black, and white),
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  • As one studies drawing, it can be useful to learn from masters that came before in order to gain inspiration and find ways of approaching challenges that arise. For those discovering drawing, there are several master draftsmen one can learn from. by Naomi
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  • Casey Baugh's step-by-step demonstration Red Scarf . Reference The model who posed for the three-hour demonstration. Step 1 After establishing the scale of the painted head and lightly indicating some of the features, Baugh applied strokes of oil
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  • This Maryland artist always paints from life, creating work that gives personality and history to inanimate objects. Apartment Fridge 2001, acrylic on panel, 5 x 7. All artwork this article private collection. by Naomi Ekperigin Nick Clulow paints household
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  • In an exhibition opening this month in New York City, Daniel E. Greene presents still-life and figure paintings inspired by the experiences and objects of his childhood. Those paintings allowed him to explore the themes of challenge, contrast, and competition
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  • Modulate contrast to keep the attention on the focal point. by Dawn Whitelaw The Old Man Pastel, 23 x 17. The artist has done an excellent job with this pastel portrait—the drawing and the use of color are quite effective. My only suggestion would
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  • In 1994 New York City pastelist Sam Goodsell returned to the art world after nine years away, determined to fully explore the challenging and rewarding genre of figure painting. His dedication is paying off. To read more features like this, subscribe
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  • In the fall 2007 issue of Watercolor , Johnnie Liliedahl discussed Old Master approaches that help her students understand the basics of oil painting. Here, we present a demonstration for her painting Lady in White. Reference: A photograph of a model
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  • Numerous accolades can be heaped upon an artist during his or her lifetime, including awards, sold-out gallery exhibitions, a museum retrospective, or rave reviews in an art magazine. Unfortunately, an artist may also experience certain setbacks, including
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  • Herrick adjusts the light mass on the ground below the children, and lightens the middle girl's face. I have been adding to the light mass on the ground below the kids. This may be overstated right now, but I can readjust this later. I also keyed
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  • The artist realizes that he needs to lighten the boy's shirt and face. I need to lighten the boy's face and shirt, and that means everything needs to be keyed up higher in the same way. It is a frustrating but necessary adjustment. About the Artist
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  • The Historical Society of the United States District Court has commissioned Herrick to paint a copy of an original Gilbert Stuart portrait for their collection. Another diversion—I'm in the process of copying an original Gilbert Stuart portrait
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  • The winner and semifinalists of our annual cover competition reveal how they created paintings that captured the attention of our judges. Frank J. Strazzulla Jr. Studio Interior 2003, oil, 18 x 14. Private collection “One of the compelling themes
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  • It was tough, but we chose 10 finalists who best showcase the skill level and imagination of our readers and named Noel A. Carmack the Drawing Magazine Cover Competition Winner for 2006. Noel A. Carmack Shannon by Noel A. Carmack, 2006, black colored
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  • Painting the expressiveness of a person’s mouth helps establish his or her likeness, personality, and vitality in a portrait, yet many artists have difficulty representing that facial feature. Here’s how I teach students to paint a mouth in
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  • The artist takes a break from Of Scions and Sunlight to complete this portrait of a college president. I often have to interrupt one commission to finish another. Recently, I had to put aside Of Scions and Sunlight to complete this portrait of a college
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  • Herrick takes a break from this portrait to work on other projects. The client has been great—they were more concerned with getting the best painting than getting the finished piece at a particular time. But because the painting was taking up a
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  • In this installment of the demonstration, the artist works on the details in the portrait. The little girl was close to where I wanted her to be, but the older girl seemed a little too dark. I needed to add a white glaze over her just to send it in the
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  • In the next installment of the demonstration, Herrick works on the background. I needed to address the background foliage to establish a context for the portraits. Things were looking a little dark in the background, so I removed some paint that was just
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  • As one studies a new medium, it can be useful to learn about the process of masters that came before in order to gain inspiration and insight into tackling various techniques. Here we focus on the great watercolorists of the past. Mink Pond by Winslow
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  • In the next installment of the demonstration, the artist tackles the boy's shorts and develops the highlights on the boy's face. I tackled the boy's shorts, organizing the color changes in reflections and shadows. Although the kids were wearing
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  • In the fourth installment of the demonstration, Herrick concentrates on the older girl in the painting. She was a bit of a challenge because I was sorting out her likeness from multiple reference photos. I wasn’t sure of her expression—in
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  • In the third installment of the demonstration, Herrick continues blocking in the portraits and begins to place a few notes of color on the canvas. I was just trying to find my way with this painting—locating bigger shapes and anchoring positions
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  • In the second installment of the demonstration, Herrick tones his canvas and begins blocking in the heads of the children. I didn’t do a drawing—I did most of my thinking with the camera and Photoshop, and then I just jumped right into things
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  • Follow Garth Herrick's entire demonstration from start to finish. Meeting the Client This came through an agent, a local representative of Portrait Source [a portrait broker]. I think the client found me in the agent’s portfolio. The couple
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  • Follow Garth Herrick's entire demonstration from start to finish. Meeting the Client This came through an agent, a local representative of Portrait Source [a portrait broker]. I think the client found me in the agent’s portfolio. The couple
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  • This Illinois-based artist has a degree in animation but found her true calling was painting portraits and still lifes in oil. by Naomi Ekperigin Hurricane Lamp With Candle 2006, oil, 9 x 12. Collection the artist. Lindsey Tull is a young artist who has
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  • Over the next few months, we will keep you abreast of the progress made on a large portrait commission taken on by Garth Herrick, a Philadelphia-based artist featured in the June 2008 issue of American Artist. In this first installment, the artist discusses
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  • The Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier, just outside of San Francisco, began with one woman’s dream to establish a school steeped in the traditions of the European ateliers of the past. Today the atelier is one of the most regarded classical contemporary
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  • Heralded as a rebel of the Romantic movement, Gustave Courbet is today considered one of the first to propel Realism into the modern world. by John A. Parks The Desperate Man 1844–1845, oil, 17¾ x 21?. Private collection. Born in 1819, Gustave
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  • The joy and excitement of plein air painting is worth the extra effort required to paint comfortably outside. Here, we address common problems and experiences artists face when first working outdoors. by Naomi Ekperigin Since the 19 th century, artists
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  • Having completed more than 400 watercolor portraits of children, Jane Paul Angelhart knows how to avoid potential problems with muddy paints, uncharacteristic poses, nervous children, and overbearing mothers. Like what you read? Become a Watercolor subscriber
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  • We present biographies and artwork from our 20 esteemed watercolor teachers. by Beth Patterson Mary Alice Braukman The Power of Letting Go by Mary Alice Braukman, 2005, mixed media and collage, 22 x 30. Collection the artist. Mary Alice Braukman is an
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  • Throughout his long career, Henry Casselli has looked to drawings to clarify his impressions and better understand his subject. To read more features like this, subscribe to Drawing today! by Lynne Moss Perricelli Study for Sparring Partner 2005, graphite
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  • Many of the great teachers who trained Daniel Graves were featured in American Artist in the 1970s, while he and his students have been profiled in more recent issues. As the magazine celebrates its 70th anniversary, we examine the academic art education
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  • An exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia, aims to present Cecilia Beaux for the great painter she was: one of the most accomplished among men and woman alike. by Lynne Moss Perricelli Self-Portrait 1894, oil, 25 x 20
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  • Likening her process for painting flowers to that of her portraits, Maine artist Susan Van Campen puts patience, skill, and heart into interpreting the life of a flower. by Allison Malafronte Bouquet, June 2006, watercolor, 42 x 29½. All artwork
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  • This French master teaches us much about contours, portraiture, and how to draw people. by Mark G. Mitchell Portrait of Charles- François Mallet 1809, graphite, 10 9/16 x 8 5/16. Collection The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. So that’s
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  • Texas cattle rancher Lonnie Shan depicts the animals he admires in stunning watercolors, taking great care to capture their personality and soul. by Naomi Ekperigin Hard is the Journey 1991, watercolor, 14 x 10. Collection the artist. Viewing one of Lonnie
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  • Selecting a palette of colors often means limiting the choices, making studies, and experimenting along the way. by Christopher Willard One of the keys to successful watercolor painting is to choose a workable set of colors. Today, with the wide range
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  • Many great landscape drawings were created as preparatory studies, educational exercises, or informational journals and not as finished works of art. We can now study those freely made graphic images for evidence of the drawing essentials , ideas, and
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  • Catherine Smith, an artist in Providence, strives to capture the perceived personality of an animal, with a healthy dose of whimsy. by Bob Bahr Lord Dominus 2006, acrylic, 18 x 14. All artwork this article collection the artist. Lady Gladrigs 2006, acrylic
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  • This Dominican-born artist uses rich color to create an exotic and intense experience of the world. by John A. Parks Standing Nude Study 1988, oil, 20 x 16. All artwork this article collection the artist unless otherwise indicated. Although he has long
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  • John P. Smolko won the Grand Prize—a new MetroShed, furnished by Blick Art Materials, for use as a stand-alone studio—for his imaginative colored pencil piece, Homage to Klimt (The Virgin). Read more about the artist, and view five online
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  • We present the semifinalists in the drawing category. by Karen Stanger Johnston Study for the Portrait of Autumn by Chusit Wijarnjoragij, 2007, brown and white colored pencil, 25 x 19. First Place: Chusit Wijarnjoragij For Thailand-born Chusit Wijarnjoragij
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  • Renowned watercolorist and workshop instructor Mary Whyte offers readers five tips for creating dynamic works of art in any medium. To read more features like this, subscribe to American Artist today! by Mary Whyte Bean Soup 2006, watercolor, 38 x 28
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  • The Portrait Award, a hugely successful and popular annual event now in its 28th year at the National Portrait Gallery, in London, and 18th year of sponsorship by BP, is aimed at encouraging artists to develop the theme of portraiture in their work. BP
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  • The National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC, is presenting this exhibition of portraits of the former associate justice of the United States, Sandra Day O’Connor, through October 8. The National Portrait Gallery Presents “Portraits of
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  • Santa Fe artist Doug Higgins has many strategies for directing the viewer’s eye toward the center of interest and leading it around the painting. by Linda S. Price Painting at Smith Cove 2004, oil, 20 x 24. All artwork this article collection the
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  • We present the semifinalists in the oil category. by Karen Stanger Johnston Hyacinth (and the McCoy Pot) by Ellen Buselli, 2006, oil on linen, 12 x 16. Private collection. First Place: Ellen Buselli Ellen Buselli’s favorite subject is the still
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  • Ingres taught us much about contours and portraiture. Here, we offer an excerpt from the feature about how the artist's use of graphite on smooth white paper was ahead of his time. by Mark G. Mitchell Portrait of La Principessa Fiano 1817, graphite
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  • The greatest of Dutch masters used a rapid, abbreviated technique in drawing to record visual impressions from the world around him and his own cornucopian imagination, foreshadowing developments in modern art more than two centuries later. by Joseph
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  • Mia Bergeron, a classically trained portraitist and figure artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is our January Artist of the Month. by Edith Zimmerman Dan 2006, oil on linen, 22 x 26. All artwork this article collection the artist. Our January Artist of
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  • This Maryland oil painter, renowned for her portraits, seeks the essence of her subjects and settles for nothing less. by Janice F. Booth Evening Pasture oil on linen, 24 x 30. Collection the artist. When we remember a friend’s face, we don’t
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  • Nearly 60 views of Malibu created by members of the California Art Club are featured in this exhibition, which explores not only the city’s picturesque scenery but also the enduring California plein air landscape tradition. by Michael Zakian Driving
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  • View a gallery of portraits by acclaimed portrait painter Dawn Whitelaw, who will lead an online chat on May 30 at 3 p.m. EST about how to identify and fix problems in your paintings. Carol oil, 24 x 18. All artwork this gallery private collection. Colton
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  • The Kimbell Art Museum, in Fort Worth, Texas, will be the only U.S. venue to host this exhibition of modern portraiture, which brings together 100 paintings and sculptures from 75 collections across Europe and North America. The Mirror and the Mask: Portraiture
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  • Watercolorist Terry Sellers Buckner, the subject of a feature story in the Spring 2007 issue of Watercolor magazine, explains how she created the portrait Grant Irons in this three-step audio slideshow demonstration. Buckner portrait demo Click to Play
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  • Oil painter Matthew Mitchell adapts Rembrandt’s working method for his portraits spotlighting Americans serving in civilian or military roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. by Karen Frankel Alexander Scott Arredondo 2005, oil on linen, 30 x 26. All artwork
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  • Veteran California oil painter Meredith Brooks Abbott explains how she has maintained a devotion to the routine of painting every day, with continually improving results. by Molly Siple Bird Refuge 2006, oil on linen, 11 x 11. All artwork this article
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  • Read an excerpt from the July/August American Artist feature on still-life artist Emphraim Rubenstein. by William Chapman Sharpe Self-portrait With Vanitas Symbols by David Bailly, 1651, oil, 25½ x 38?. Collection Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal,
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  • One of the top artists specializing in children’s portraits recently offered workshops for both oil and pastel painters. Although some of Wende Caporale’s specific instructions related to one medium or the other, her general discussions about
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  • In the July/August issue of American Artist, we explored how portrait artist Leonid Gervits takes a stand for the legitimacy of the fine draftsmanship and multilayered technique 400 years after Velázquez. Here, we offer an excerpt from the feature
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  • This oil painter finds that his ongoing series of paintings depicting books allows him to venture into a number of themes—including self-portraiture. View an online exclusive gallery of Rubenstein's work. by William Chapman Sharpe The Great
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  • Although it’s no substitute for painting from life, painting from photographs has its advantages, especially when you use the photos upside-down. by Jennifer King Indiana artist C.W. Mundy began a recent workshop in his study by discussing his methods
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  • by William Chapman Sharpe In the July/August issue of American Artist, William Chapman Sharpe investigated how oil painter Ephraim Rubenstein used books as subject matter in his paintings to explore their meaning in society and to serve as an indirect
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  • Online resources offer students in all grade levels fast and easy access to images and background information that offer students a deeper understanding of fine art and art history. by Erica Yonks A Hyena’s Dinner 12th grade student, 2006, found
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  • Californian Kim Lordier has succeeded by pushing herself to create better and more original paintings with pastel and by stopping herself from rendering photographic details. “I had to gain enough confidence to make marks that expressed what I wanted
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  • “The Baird Collection of Early California Paintings” will be on display at the Monterey Museum of Art, in Monterey, California, through April 22. The Baird Collection of Early California Paintings Through April 22 Monterey Museum of Art Monterey
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  • As well as any artist before or since, John Singer Sargent learned the best lessons in value, light, and form and used them throughout his life—lessons clearly visible in his drawings. by Mark G. Mitchell Sleeping Child 1872–1873, graphite
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  • Achieving lifelike skin tones and a refined image is at the heart of Terry Sellers Buckner’s success as a portrait painter. by Lynne Moss Perricelli Tommy and Danni 2002, watercolor, 14 x 11. All artwork this article private collection. Terry Sellers
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  • In her acrylic paintings, Emily Cameron Pressly creates comprehensive records of her experiences, emotions, and observations by working from her impression of a subject rather than from direct observation. by M. Stephen Doherty When I paint our garden
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  • In the winter 2006 issue of Workshop magazine, we explored how James M. Sulkowski showed students how to paint people posing in lush garden scenes during his Pennsylvania workshop. In this online exclusive gallery, we offer more of his oil paintings.
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  • It’s important to consider color theory when painting a landscape. by John Budicin West Coast Fall acrylic on canvas. It’s important to consider color theory when painting a landscape because often, as in this painting, the colors are too
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  • Our critic discusses the importance of shadows and foregrounds when considering a painting’s composition. by John Budicin Sunset Edith The artist needs to consider how the shadows are placed in this painting. The interior shadows seem a bit dark
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  • Depicting features is only the beginning. Putting life into a head drawing requires assimilating it with the rest of the body, capturing an attitude—and much more. by Dan Gheno Study for the Angel in Madonna of the Rocks by Leonardo, silverpoint
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  • We went in search of Anders Zorn in his homeland and discovered a personality large enough to encompass numerous contradictions—and a natural ability to paint in both oils and watercolor. by Bob Bahr When Anders Zorn's name is mentioned in the
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  • Debbie Cason Rankin explains how drips, puddles, and runs can capture a subject’s emotional state. by James A. Metcalfe Life Is Good 2004, watercolor, 14 x 20. All artwork this article collection the artist. “Hopefully this painting leaves
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  • In the fall 2006 issue of Drawing , we explained how to draw dynamic heads. We present an excerpt from the article about measuring facial features. by Dan Gheno In my “Portrait Painting” article in the February 1993 issue of American Artist
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  • John Howard Sanden is one of the country’s leading portraitists working today. His clientele includes leading political, business, and religious figures, and he has toured the nation teaching his portrait-painting technique to thousands of artists
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  • In the November 2006 issue of American Artist , we explored how Texas artist Chris McHenry balanced constrasting values, color temperatures, and edges to establish depth, atmosphere, focus, and emotion in his oil landscapes. We present an excerpt from
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  • This New York state plein air artist creates impressive landscape paintings informed by his work as an illustrator and inspired by the work of the Hudson River School. by John A. Parks Creek Above Kaaterskill Falls 2004, oil, 20 x 16. All artwork this
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  • This exhibition, on view through October 8, chronicles the work of painter and printmaker Gerald Brockhurst. The Eternal Masquerade: Prints and Paintings by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890–1978) From the Jacob Burns Foundation Through October 8,
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