Painting Faces

I’ve occasionally dabbled with regular painting. The kind artists do on canvases. I think people generally have a perception that this kind of painting is very difficult, nigh on impossible, when in reality I think it’s far easier than miniature painting. This is for a very simple reason. With miniature painting you’re very limited on the number and thickness of layers of paint you can use before all the detail is clogged up. On a canvas there are no details, so you’re much freer to paint and repaint details until you get things right.

Above is a rather bad picture of a mediocre painting I did of a friend.

Here’s a painting I did not too long ago of our house rabbit.

Here is the actual rabbit sleeping in the foetal position.

The holy grail I suppose of canvas painting would have to be the portrait, since as humans we are very accustomed to recognising and scrutinising other human faces not purely for artistic reasons but for more important things like survival.

An important thing I picked up was that when coming to do a portrait do not and I mean DO NOT paint a human face! You will have learned to draw and paint faces as a child and this tends to lead you to cut corners and make assumptions about what a human face should look like. Do not think of eyes as half way down the face, the bottom of the nose half way between the eyes and the chin, or the mouth half way again. Not all faces follow this pattern!

Treat any face more as a still life. I don’t have any examples of paintings I did before I learned this rule, but here’s a few I did after the fact on Microsoft Paint of all things.

A friend.

Brian Blessed.

My wife.

This all leads up to the portrait I did today. Bela Lugosi:

On canvas this time, and I think I managed a decent likeness. It’s not perfect but a hand painted portrait never will be. My main recommendation and maybe rule for canvas painting, miniature painting and even life is to act fearlessly. No-one ever does something well the first time they try.

2 thoughts on “Painting Faces

  1. Great portraits! So let me get this right, are you saying that Brian Blessed is a shouty sort of person…?

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