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Tuesday 10 February 2009



"Begin at the beginning," the King said, gravely, "and go on to the end: then stop."
Lewis Carrol (1832-1898) Alice in Wonderland.

Very good advice, but the real starting point for a good portrait is to draw as often as you can. This will sharpen your powers of observation and your dexterity when transferring what you see in front of you onto your paper or canvas.

Perhaps the best person to start with is yourself. The advantages are that you are always available when you want a model. You can control the position of the model, what the model wears, and you can stop and restart whenever you want to.

It is important that you emphasise the model’s features. This means that you must position the model in the available light to highlight the light and dark areas on the model's face. (See my blog on what Oliver Cromwell said about his portrait).

Naturally the mirror you are using needs to be hung or positioned appropriately.

I have tried to show how this can be achieved in the sketch above. The sunlight casts strong shadows across the face, and this helps to emphasise the three dimensional aspects of the face.

Now you need to get started. Look carefully at what you see and try to reproduce the shapes you see in the mirror. Please, please remember that not all of your efforts will be an overwhelming success. But I can promise you that the more you draw and paint, the better you’ll get.

Come on. Give it a go.

In the sketch above, A is you, B is your mirror and C is your self portrait.

The other two paintings are portraits of Lynne I’ve done over the years.

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