Drawing Portraits Fundamentals Second Edition—on sale!

You may have seen the notices and links to my “new” edition of the Portrait-Artist.org book. Finally, after over a decade, a second edition!

Drawing Portraits Fundamentals (How to Draw People), available on eBook and in print.

I dragged my feet on getting this edition finally done! But now I’m happy that it’s finally completed and ready to go.

It’s been up on Amazon for about a month, both paperback and eBook. Amazon allows me to run a promo now and then, and it’s on NOW! The eBook is only 0.99 cents (USA Amazon.com only) for a limited time.

The eBook has been priced at $3.99 USD since it was released in November 2015 on a limited time, short term basis. My plan is to raise the price after this 99 cent promo. It’s a very large book, with a large file size (that raises its production cost).

The book cover graphic links to a special page which tells you more about the book. In summary, it is “inspired” by the content in the main website portrait-artist.org. Some of the graphics and lessons are taken straight from the site. A lot of editing was done in the book version, however. I added a lot of new content, rewrote a lot of passages, switched out some of the artwork for new drawings, and basically retooled the whole thing.

While I’m here, I’d also like to encourage you to sign up for my newly-formed mailing list! I’m not going to spam you or pester you with useless junk; I just thought it would be nice to have a way to connect with the site visitors, keep you updated, and so forth. I am giving away a freebie 11-page mini eBook entitled “Seven Ways You Can Do NOW to Improve Your Art” to anyone who signs up for the mailing list: http://eepurl.com/bIIwMv

More on painting & drawing from life

“Matthias, Painted from Life” 8×10″ oil on canvas panel

I thought I’d pontificate a bit more about working (drawing, painting) from life, and express what it’s like (and why it’s important) on an emotional level.

Working from life (having a model sit in front of you) is “harder” (you have to be quicker, you have to transfer the 3-D model to the 2-D canvas or paper). But it’s also more real. There’s a connection with your model and your surroundings that isn’t there when you work from a photo.

You see the model as they are to you, not as what the camera says they are. Continue reading More on painting & drawing from life

More on the Limited Palette: ZORN

Oh my, I’ve not updated this blog in a little over a year! I’ve been bad!

Well, I’m going to try to be more steadfast in updating this blog, because there’s always a lot of neato arty stuff to talk about.

In this post, I’m going to explore the “limited palette,” aka the ZORN PALETTE, a little more. (NOTE: This limited palette exercise can be used with any paints: Oils, acrylics, watercolors, gouache.)

“Piercing Gaze,” 6×8″ oil on linen. Thanks to Stockingbird on DeviantArt for the stock photo I used as reference.

This painting was done using only four colors! They are:

  • White (Titanium-Zinc White, or Titanium White)
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Ivory Black

Continue reading More on the Limited Palette: ZORN

Why Drawing From Life (and Studying “Realism”) is Important

Recently on this site’s Facebook page, an artist named Tony asked about why it was important to draw from life, since what he’s doing is cartooning (drawing in his own stylized way). I explained as best I could, but wanted to expound a bit on the subject.

Art students are often told to “draw from life” (as opposed to drawing from photos, or your imagination) because our art should, even if it’s highly stylized, emulate life. You can’t make a convincing “cartoon hand” if you don’t know what a real one looks like. Your stylized, artistically modified drawings look more convincing (even if they are not remotely “realistic” anymore) when you understand what you’re stylizing.

First, the “drawing from life” part. (As contrasted with drawing from photos.)

“Portrait of Girl, from Life” sketched in about 20-30 minutes.

I drew a lot of portraits from photos, starting when I was a young teenager. I’d draw my favorite actors and actresses. (Like a lot of kids do.) That meant drawing from photos. I became pretty good at it, for my age. I occasionally drew from life (my friends would pose for me) but not nearly as much as from photos.

When I first took a Life Drawing class (drawing the figure) in college, it was extremely difficult at first. A serious adjustment, and a grave blow to my ego at the beginning! I had always assumed that I drew pretty well, because I was doing a decent job of it with photos. But I still had a long way to go in developing my drawing skills.  Continue reading Why Drawing From Life (and Studying “Realism”) is Important

Oil painting primer, getting started with a limited palette

I was editing the main (circa 2002) tutorial pages on portrait-artist.org, and came to the oil painting page. And froze! There is waaaaay too much I want to say about oil painting! I can’t do it in just one page.

So I’m going to start a series of posts here about oil painting, then will link to them from main site.

GETTING STARTED WITH OIL PAINTING

I started painting when I was a kid, still in middle school. It’s not that hard or scary. If it were, I would have never kept with it. (Hey! I was just a kid!) So if you’ve heard that oil painting is complex, or “scary,” don’t believe it. Yes there are “rules,” yes, there are things you need to know. But you can do it. And the rewards are wonderful!

First I’m going to tell you a bit about oil paints, set you up with what to buy. (Just the barebones.) Then I’ll tell you more about the painting I’m showing here, and its significance.

Emo Guy, oil on 5×4 inch canvas panel. Thanks to XXMAUROXX for the use of his stock photo for reference.

DISPELLING SOME MYTHS ABOUT OIL PAINTING:

“It’s so nasty and toxic!” 

No, not that much more than acrylics. Both oils and acrylics use some pigments (like cobalt and cadmium) that must be handled with care. Oils do often need to be thinned with paint thinner or mineral spirits. But some of these thinners are pretty mild and will work fine with reasonable care. Or you can work around using them, by getting a completely non-toxic solvent/thinner. (I recommend it later in this post.)

“It takes weeks and weeks to dry!”

If you paint thickly, live in a humid area, and use some painting medium that slows drying, yeah, I guess so. But if you don’t paint too thickly (most of us don’t) and use a painting medium which accelerates drying, usually the paint is dry to the touch overnight (or within 24 hours). That’s usually how it works for me.

“They’re so hard to learn!”

Not any harder than acrylics, really. And oils are more forgiving, easier to blend, and richer. But that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with acrylics. They have their charms too.


Continue reading Oil painting primer, getting started with a limited palette

So you (or your kid) loves anime and wants to be a professional artist. . .

So as I said in this previous post about anime, I am a former kid artist, and I know how it is. You want to draw what you want to draw, not what your teacher or your parents think you should draw. And I’m in total agreement that a kid should draw what they want. Otherwise, art—something they supposedly love—will become a chore, something tedious, and they’ll start to feel resentment. Towards those pressuring them to stop drawing what they want to draw, as well as towards the art itself.

But (there’s always a but!) things change once a kid says they want to go to art school and become a pro. And I don’t care what kind of artist they want to become—illustrator, animator, fine artist—whatever. If they are a big fan of anime and they are talking seriously about a career in art, there are some things that they should realize.

You can’t build a professional career on drawing anime alone (unless you live in Japan!).

There is probably some small, small, infinitesimally small exceptions to this, but that’s the gist of it. Don’t delude yourself otherwise. It’s all fine and good to love anime and love drawing manga and anime art, but once you say that art is what you want to do professionally, you must realize that you’re going to compete with other students who can do all sorts of art, not just anime. Continue reading So you (or your kid) loves anime and wants to be a professional artist. . .

Ethnic woman, front view

I started drawing an eye, and then filled in the rest of the face from there. I really don’t recommend drawing portraits this way, since so often something gets crooked or wonky. This woman is drawn from my imagination and looks kind of sad. (Hmmm . . . is the drawing “sad,” as in, not very well done? Or do I mean that her expression is sad? Well, maybe both!)

Pencil, approximately 5×5 inches.