Week 12

Today was our third week working on portraits. For the demonstration I showed you the work of several artist: N.C. Wyeth, Sargent, Odd Nerdrum, Manet and others. We looked at the different ways these artists approached painting eyes.

As you study an one artists work you will begin to see patterns in how the artist constructs various parts of the face. With several of the artists we have examples of unfinished paintings and sketches to give us even greater understanding of the artists technique.

Even in his completed paintings Sargent had a wide range of levels of finish he would bring portraits to. Seeing some of his less resolved portraits reveals that he would initially paint faces without discernible eyes. He would just block in general dark areas for eye sockets. N.C. Wyeth had almost no details in the eyes in many of the paintings we looked at. Even in his self portrait you can barely make out the whites of his eyes. 

It can be very compelling to give only a suggestion of detail and let the viewer fill in the rest. So I suggest finding examples of our favorite portrait artists and look very closely at how they construct facial features. There are often clues in the brush strokes repeated colors. 

I also did a demonstration of painting an eye. It is important to remember here that the surface of the eye is concave but the iris is convex, so if you light source is above the face the highlight on the surface of the eye will be on the top of the eye (imagine a ball) but the highlight on the iris (colored part of the eye) will be at the bottom (imagine a bowl). It is also worth reminding you that there is typically a dark line at the bottom of the upper eyelid that is created by the eyelashes and the shadow cast by the eyelid onto the eye ball. This dark line is often overlooked, making the eye look buggy. 

Next week we will start on a new painting so come prepared with a new canvas to paint on. Also bring your portraits if you work on them during the week and we will take a look at them at the beginning of class. 

Make sure you take a look at our boxes in the display case. They look really nice.