The art of portrait

The art of portrait painting in oil colours

This informative book on portrait painting has been preserved for generations and fully deserves to to be available to all portrait artists online. While the art of portraiture has moved on, much of what was written is still valid and relevant to the modern day portrait painter.

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The colour of the hair, its arrangement, and the forms which it may naturally assume, are not less significant passages of resemblance than any of the features of the face. The light and shade of the hair must be studied with reference to the effect of the lights of the face, which it is employed to clear up and heighten. All divisions must be carefully painted, and the junction of the hair with the skin must be shown here and there in order to avoid the appearance of a wig, which might be communicated were this not observed.

The parts of the hair which require careful manipulation and nicety of gradation are those where its roots are seen breaking the tints of the forehead and temple. The colours of the hair and the tints of the brow must be broken together, by imperceptible gradations : a result which will not be successfully attained by hatching with a small pencil, an error into which beginners generally fall when any finesse of execution is necessary.

The partings that occur in the hair of women must be painted with similar delicacy of treatment, and with due observance of the light on one side and the shade on the other, according to the distribution in side or oblique light. The breadths of the hair* may be painted with flat brushes of various sizes, the lights being laid with a spirited touch and as near to the degree of nature as possible.

The colours used in painting the hair are White, Yellow, Black, Raw and Burnt Umber, Bone Brown, Burnt Sienna, Brown Madder, etc., in tints and combinations of -two and three -as Black and Umber, Black and Burnt Sienna, Black and Brown Madder, White, Black, and Umber, etc. Other colours are used, but the result is the same.


About John Payne

Pet Portraits     Art for sale - oil paintings

I’ve been a professional portrait artist for the last 12 years but have been painting for a lot longer . I started out by painting nothing but seascapes and still do the odd one from time to time , I then moved onto landscapes and wildlife paintings before I finally decided to concentrate on portraits.

I get commissioned to paint a lot of pets , mainly dogs – but I also get to paint a fair amount of portraits of people.

more about John                                                                  John Payne       




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