Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to plan a portrait

It can be tricky to do a portrait of six kids but planning well in the beginning makes it a lot easier. Believe me, I am not the best planner but I put my non-meticulous ways to work to ensure fewer setbacks later on. I always start with a sketch. It may not look like much but it helps me familiarize myself with the faces and the composition. The pictures I was given to work with for this portrait were fairly small so I blew them up as much as I could without getting blurry. I had to work between two separate photos to get the best view of each child so drawing out the composition in a sketchbook helps to sort it out. I often make notes in the sketchbook to remind myself of ideas and colors.

Once I am ready to tackle the canvas I start laying out the composition in pencil. I don't normally do this because I usually enjoy just moving paint around and not tainting my canvas with pencil, although when I'm painting six portraits on one canvas I have to measure and re-measure and that is a little easier in pencil. I make sure to measure every head, set of eyes, forehead to chin, ear to ear.... you get the idea. This is not a mathematical method nor is it graphed out. I use my pencil or paintbrush to measure. It's more like eyeballing until you get it right. I like this method because I am still using my eyes rather than relying on a graph. I think it just works best for my brain. After this step is done it's time to start painting! My next post will be about the underpainting.


Erin said...

Wow! I'm so excited to see the next stage! This project would have me running scared, but you have such a talent with painting people! Good luck!

Leia Brown said...

Thanks Erin! Paintings like these do make me nervous (which is why I spend all the time in the planning stage). Normally I just start throwing paint on the canvas!