Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
WIP Calire tutorial by Mad-Margaret WIP Calire tutorial by Mad-Margaret

I don't like the idea of a full on tutorial, as I truly believe that no one can follow another's footsteps. But I will explain how I've achieved this portrait, step by step, in the hope that it will inspire and encourage others to do the same.

First off. Get your sitter into the right position. That sounds easy, but it isn't. The best position is usually 3/4. Think about it. Full frontal and you (and your final viewer) has no real idea of bone structure. 3/4 view and you've got the nose and the cheek and the jaw - this applies to caricature as well.

Now start sketching. From every angle. You need to understand how they exist in their space. You need to know and feel what they are about. I once worked with a great artist who insisted on sculpting every portrait before he began work on it - for him it was the only way to understand the skull beneath the skin.

Work out your lighting. I chose light from the left and it seemed to work. As your viewer will read the painting from left to right (we all do) then this is a nice logical approach. It gives a feeling of relaxation - if it was lit from the right it would have a very different, even uncomfortable feel...try it.

Now take your photos. These are what you will work from mainly.

Now sketch up the photo to full size. My canvas (pre prepared with gesso) is about 3 x 4' , so pretty large. I played around with composition, but didn't take long to sort it. I wanted a medieval/Renaissance feel to it, so the positioning of Claire was important and set everything else. The arch behind her was vital. To her left will be a mirror with her boyfriend James (my son) in it. For a nice feeling of wow, I'm going to light him from the other side - completely impossible. The intention of this portrait is to be personal, so her 2 cats are in the pic and behind will be Bournemouth Beach (part painted).

OK. so now you're ready to paint. I'm using acrylics - quite a mix of makes! I get a lot of them off ebay from people who've tried and given up and etc - much the cheapest way to buy.. Mix up a nice Van Dyke Brown, Sepia or Dark Umber with water and paint watercolour style to set your tones.

Now you can start painting. I started with her left (our right) eye and filled out from there. I've only done the right side of her face, although you will note the rest is still quite accurate for tone if not for colour. I can't tell you how to mix colour - you need to play. But I used a Venetian Red, Quinacridone Deep Purple, Deep Turquoise, Golden Ochre, Titanium White and Cad Red for the flesh tones.

Will put this up as I go and hope you will find it interesting!
Add a Comment:
Unearthed-Nightmare Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2008
Well, congrats about the marriage!!:D
Sorry about the little free time >.<
Unearthed-Nightmare Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2008
Wonderful job!!It's simply beautiful and the cats are very cute^^ You did a great on the explaination too! And I love how realistic it is.

"Work out your lighting. I chose light from the left and it seemed to work. As your viewer will read the painting from left to right (we all do) then this is a nice logical approach."

In most cases, people look at the part that most stands out first and don't "read" the picture left to right. For example, if I were to give you a picture with a black background and a white dot on the far right the first thing you'd look at would be the dot because the contast of the picture makes it stand out compared to the entirty of the black.
Mad-Margaret Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for your nice comments. Of course the contrasts in value, colour or tone will be the most obvious things in any painting - I rather took that as a given. But once that's done, the left to right thing really does work. Sorry to sound pedantic, but I teach art for a living!
Unearthed-Nightmare Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2008
Oh okay!!^^ So you meant after you look at the thing that "pops" the most? Ya and an art teacher actually told me about what I was talking about that's all!!
Still a great picture! :D
Mad-Margaret Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
If I EVER finish it. Getting married in 2 weeks time and my life is one long wedding planner...
TaiChi100 Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2008
It's absolutley amazing, but it's in the way of the door to the study! I particularly like the old man with the big nose in the background.
mitchellnelson Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2008  Professional General Artist
looks fantastic!!! I can't wait to see the fin piece! Very good walkthrough as well. :nod:
density-tmr Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2008
Its looking great so far - well done. And thanks for the explaination.
Mad-Margaret Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks - she's a pretty girl and looks rather Barbara Hepworth in my pic cos of the angle I had to take it!
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
March 22, 2008
Image Size
2.7 MB


22 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
10/60 second
Focal Length
6 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Mar 14, 2008, 1:08:21 AM