Best Practices For Learning Basic Portrait Art

Portrait art is primarily consists of painting, drawing and photography. Photography is more of a combination of technical know-how on the equipments and one’s creativity in composition.

Drawing is the often describe as the most fundamental, and portrait painting is much more difficult to acquire.

In a concise explanation, I feel that portrait art attribute to a common purpose.. that is, achieving the goal of capturing likeness to the actual person in life.

Cameras can capture likeness easily, but a real portrait painting requires patience and good understanding, and an eye for creativity composition that might come through the brush or pencil.

Since my last post on portrait drawing, I still cannot figure out what is the best practice to accomplish a good portrait art, specifically on paintings and drawings.

Is there any secrets to achieve good portrait painting?

Is techniques or choice of medium contribute to the best learning method?

Or practice makes perfect?

Below sharing some tips for best practices on learning basic portrait drawing and paintings. I do hope there will be useful for every beginners in portrait art.

  1. Always keep a small sketch book and start drawing from life subject. This is so simple, isn’t it? Well, I hardly do that when it comes to real practice in public places. I did bring along 2 sketch books in this traveling trip, however, I use it more often as a jotter book than to seriously learn drawings on life subjects.
  2. Drawing from life helps to learn how to analyze reality and put it on the page. Its time to change and seriously put in some effort to draw more. Portrait outlines are the basic, the important aspect to describe its form is by determining the light and shade. Analyze and emphasize on light source for shadows and darkness.
  3. Do not rush to finish the portrait art, but given ample time for detailed observation. Eventually, what is drawn or painted is translated through your brain. Focus on proportion of drawing a typical adult head. Or perhaps, start drawing basic shape on portrait features, such as nose, ears, mouth. Eyes are very difficult to draw, I hope to have more practice on this area.
  4. Learn through trial and errors. “Experience is the best teacher”. Its an old sayings.. “learn from mistakes”, “never too old to learn”, and “learning never ends”. Accuracy is important. Drawing off by the slightest bit just won’t look right. Using grids as an aid helps to minimized errors and more accurate drawings.
  5. Drawing is the most fundamental. Capturing the essence of the subject is far more crucial to a powerful and successful portrait than mere details, medium, and techniques. Painting is much more difficult, you have to know what color you are seeing when you’re painting. For drawing portrait, the right shading and proportionality help to determine the value and likeness, respectively. Hue and color in painting comes latter.
  6. Study of body anatomy; understand what bones and muscles are behind the skin, how big they are, what their shape is. Do you know even the great master artist, Vincent van Gogh, painted a human skull and skeleton in an anatomy class while he was studying art?

There is no shortcuts for learning portrait drawing or paintings. Will I practice hard on what I have preached?  We shall see next week post..