Portrait Sketch

posted in: Techniques 2

Here we all are, self isolating and having to find ways to amuse ourselves. Unable to hold art classes, I've decided to try recording the painting of some portrait sketches. Practising these is something I've been wanting to do more of and this might just be the motivation I need.

If you find this useful please let me know and I'll do some more. Contact me if you have any questions or want me to provide any more information in future recordings.

Do give it a go yourself - I'm using oils but you could use acrylics if you prefer. I've listed the colours I'm using and am keeping them to the basic ones that most people should have in their art boxes. If you find you don't have a colour, message me the ones you do have and I'll suggest which best to use. I've also attached a photo of my reference.

And please send me what you produce - I'd love to see what you've been doing.

While practise in this case does not make perfect, it does bring improvement and there's many things I can learn from the process including use and mixing of colour, correct proportions, use of a good tonal range, general practise of 'looking', knowing when to stop... The good thing about these paintings is that, being small (this one is 7x5"), the canvas isn't expensive and they are relatively quick to do so if it doesn't turn out as expected, it's not a big deal and I will have learnt something in the process.

The finished painting doesn't really look like the reference but I'm not worried about that - the aim with this sketch was simply to paint a portrait and in that it's been successful.

Use this to have a go yourself and please do show me what you create.

Things to bear in mind/work on with these quick sketches:

  • Spend a bit of time at the start getting the proportions right
  • Crop the reference photo where you like - you're the artist, you decide what you paint
  • Look closely and paint what you see, not what you think it should look like
  • They are sketches so don't over fiddle with them - if it doesn't work, wipe the paint off (for oils) or paint over (for acrylics) and start again.
  • Keep colour mixes simple - if you want a video on colour mixing, let me know.
  • Don't be afraid of dark tones - some areas of the face are in shadow - no need to add white to the skin mixes
  • Have fun!

Colours used:

  • Burnt Umber
  • French Ultramarine
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • White

2 Responses

  1. Kate Calder
    | Reply

    Hi Jackie. That was so up lifting. Thank you so much. I just love the way you paint. I think in these horrible times something like this is such a joy and gives endless pleasure. I feel lucky that I have a hobby that makes me happy. Kate Calder ( ex pupil of yours now living in North Yorkshire). Take care. Kate

    • admin
      | Reply

      Thank you Kate – your words are very encouraging. I shall be doing more. I think I’ll do a colour mixing one before the next portrait. I hope you’re keeping safe and well. And you didn’t need to explain who you are – I haven’t forgotten you and you’re still missed!!

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