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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In the portraits of ladies the general tone of the neck and shoulders should be lower than that of the face, of which the highest light is the forehead.

It is, however, sometimes found in very fair persons that the tones of the neck are as high as those of the face, in which case those of the neck and shoulders must be lowered with very pale grey tints; and such is the extreme delicacy of this complexion, that it will be very difficult to realize it until after some experience.

In colouring this part of the picture, it will be observed that in many subjects the tints of the upper part of the shoulders are of a somewhat warm tone in comparison with those of which we have spoken. This at times may appear exaggerated ; but in representing the hue upon canvas, care must be taken to avoid anything like discordance of colour ; it is better to keep this, or any other similar passages, rather below the warmth of nature, than work up to the reality, when the result would be an obvious discord.

In persons of spare habit, the muscles of the neck, with even the points of insertion, are too strongly demonstrated in certain poses, and in such subjects the clavicle is also conspicuously defined. We need scarcely say that faithful representations in such cases are sometimes painful, and never agreeable. The painter, therefore, by licence of his art, softens, modifies, and partially conceals passages which, if delineated with fidelity, would not only impair the resemblance, but injure the study as a work of art.

In a front view the colour round and below the throat will at once suggest the use of the finest greys and purest pale carnations which the palette can supply. The prevailing tints here are White and Yellow, White, Yellow and Light Red, or Vermilion, White, Yellow, and Madder, blended and broken with delicate greys ; and if at any time any part should dry too warm, this may be rectified by very carefully, with a small brush, going over the part with some cooler tint, such as White and Terre Verte, or White, Terre Verte, and Lake, mixed to a very pale tint.

The throat and the parts immediately adjacent must be painted with a full and free brush; but the painter must be sedulously careful of preserving, slightly, the markings of the throat, and the indications of the great muscles which appear in certain positions of the head ; and here, as elsewhere, any angular tendency or sharpness of lines may be cancelled without injury to the likeness.


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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