How do I get a likeness?

Firstly it lies in the measurements: get an accurate initial rendering of the face. (However if we are doing a caricature, it’s a different kettle of fish and the art of exaggeration kicks in.) There are classic relationships ie., half, third and fifths in relation to eyes, nose, mouth, ears and eyebrows. The true relationships are width of face to length of face; eyes (usually half way), eyes to base of nose, eyes to hairline, and importantly watch the distance between the eyes (if doing front on). This is where the fifths comes into it, ie., an eye measurement goes into the face 5 times.  In any portrait, the true character lies in capturing the eyes.

A quick pencil ‘block in’ may not be totally accurate at this stage but allows the more creative aspects of colour application (in this case, pastel) to bring it to life. I usually complete a pastel portrait in 15-20 minutes (after the initial block in). I work fast to capture the energy of the subject or the energy of the moment. Nothing is laboured.

Colour, too, is important, as I don’t just see ‘flesh’ tone. I see reds, blues, greens and usually apply colour quickly in complementaries and analogous to create harmony in the image or, if the image allows, a sense of competing hue.

If you would like a one-on-one art class, contact me @veloceartist

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