Classic Portraiture

Portrait painting is a very personal relationship between an artist and his model. When it comes to portrait painting the last thing that I am interested in is capturing the likeness of my sitter in the beginning. What I look for are shapes. Light and shadow make shapes. I begin very loosely blocking in my positive to negative space on the canvas. Once I am comfortable with the space relationship and its placement I begin by refining the image and continue to keep it painterly. Starting with a non descript color as a halftone on the face, I begin to carve out the form by adding the dark values always paying close attention to the abstract shape of the head against the canvas, the positive to the negative relationship.


In the beginning the light and color are layered in thinking first about my use of color. Floating in the color is next. The brushwork is very important now! A brush stroke should carry information about the light, the color, and the shape. Less is more and more is less. I was so impressed with John Singer Sargent’s ability to do so much with only a few strokes of the brush. This is what I strive to achieve with my portraits.


The likeness of the sitter begins to take shape as I continue to refine each shape. The halftones fall into place and paint themselves. Using just the right amount of clean local color in the light in the proper place brings the painting to life!


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