look in to my eyes..


Its all about the math.

It took me a while to get it to click but the secret in a good portrait really seems to be all about the measuring and angles.

In the beginning, painting faces that actually looked ok (forget about realistic, I was aiming for humanoid) was hard, stressful and damn difficult.

There was a LOT of disasters, most that have never seen the light of day.

I did faceless mermaids and cartoonish fairies, but I was never really happy with the results.



At my first lot of art classes, one of my early projects was a portrait “in fauvist style”

a style of painting with vivid expressionistic and non-naturalistic use of colour that flourished in Paris from 1905 and, although short-lived, had an important influence on subsequent artists, especially the German expressionists. Matisse was regarded as the movement’s leading figure.
It was adequate, but not wonderful and had a very short life span. (the only thing good about that bloody portrait is the hat to be honest)
Anther project, another attempt at capturing  a likeness.
Skin tones ok…but
New classes, same teacher but a whole different approach to learning and portraiture was put away while I learned other skills including working in oils. Except for my “selfie”
2015-06-27 16.59.11
I played with charcoal.  The messy smudgy thing working as I got my head around the basics.
Confidence growing, I decided to attempt some drag queen portraiture.
While the art was showing that practice makes improvement, sadly the project proved disastrous on a personal front and once again I retreated from painting faces.
But despite everything, I am hooked on capturing faces in paint. And I finally felt ready to take on the sepia portrait of my Grandfather based on a photo taken when he was in the air force.
A deeply personal project and one I was determined to get right.  And if the look on my mother’s face when she first saw it is anything to go by, I got it very right.
And from that portrait I have been commissioned to paint another, also in the sepia style on the linen canvas.
I am two sessions in now and still a fair amount of work to do, but so far it is going well.
I still have a lot to learn about painting faces.  Still need to develop my style properly but I am getting there.
More than other painting subjects, it’s all about the math, preparation and practice.
And not giving up when it gets hard.
Oh and if you think that sepia is now my thing, check out this last one
Say “Hi” to Drew.  This was a bit of a quick paint but it turned out pretty wonderful.
And he loves it.
As do I.

9 thoughts on “look in to my eyes..

  1. cwmartin13

    I remember seeing comic book “guides to drawing” that made the face sound so complicated- I was struggling with hands myself. But when you see how many “top artists” you can guess off because the face is always the same (ie John Byrne) you get a clue how hard it really is- and what an excellent job you did on that portrait. Perfect always LOOKS easy.

    1. Faces are hard. Especially if you are trying to capture a real person and have it recognisable.
      I know I still have room to improve but I am really enjoying this type of art

  2. Reading this was a joy being that i feel like I have taken this journey with you. Your art is evolving and that’s fantastic. The two “sepia” works are incredible and realistic while “Drew” looks real but still infused with your style. It makes me incredibly happy that you’re back and we/I get to see your continued growth as an artist. Allow me to reiterate, holy wow those last two are impressive.

    1. Thank you, for sticking with me on this journey and constantly supporting me in all my artistic efforts.
      I love how modern and colourful the “Drew” portrait is, very much like the subject, just as i am loving the challenge of sepia and the more traditional style of portraiture.

  3. It’s always interesting to take a look back and see how far you’ve come. You’ve come a really long way and you can only keep moving forwrd from here. I think I have trouble really seeing shapes. So I’m no good at faces.

    1. I think the trick is less about seeing shapes and more about seeing the tones, the light and the dark. Of course measuring is important, the size of eyes and distance between them can make or break a portrait but noses are more about the light and shade.
      I thought I was terrible at faces too, so it really is about practice

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