The Portrait from Life

I’m posting this to show how I compose a portrait when working from life. If I’m working from photos the sketch stage is not as necessary. I begin by doing a quick sketch like the one above. This sketch took about 25 minutes. I draw as much of the model as I plan to have in the painting. I’m careful to get a reasonably good likeness so that proportion will be consistent to those in the painting. With the sketch as a reference, I design the layout of the painting. Before the model comes back I will have the abstract portion of the painting roughed in and two little marks to show me the size and placement of the head. These two marks are enough regardless of whether I’m painting just the head or the full figure. Having the colors laid-in in advance is important because when the model comes back I will need to use those colors in the flesh to unify the painting. When I begin painting from the model, as long as I keep her head inside the marks and I’m not tired or hungry, its works like a charm.

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10 responses to “The Portrait from Life

  1. Wow Jeff!!!! This is simply awesome! Thanks so much for starting a blog. I’m a big fan and this just made my year!! I can’t wait for more. Question about this process. Do you transfer the drawing to the canvas or start painting directly? Thanks!

  2. I’m glad you like the blog. I don’t transfer the drawing. I just paint direct. I want the painting to be fresh. Painting in the lines makes that less likely.

  3. Hi Jeff, So glad to see you are including some tutorials on your blog. I do miss your classes, but I’ll take what I can get. Good to see the manikins are behaving. Best to you on your upcoming shows.Kim (Kincaid) Garfieldps. any chance of a future workshop?

  4. So glad to see you’ve started a blog. As an artist myself, I’ve loved your work ever since I saw a few of your – just arrived – paintings leaning up in a corner of the Wendt in Laguna a couple years ago. The flat abstracted backgrounds combined with such original figures – and the colors! Stunning, is about the best I can come up with. And thanks for sharing these insights on your processes.One question… when you say, “2 marks” for the head, are you referring to top/bottom?Thanks!

  5. Jeff–just found your art and love it; you are certainly a born talent. Phenomenal drawing ability, which translates beautifully into your paintings. Can’t paint if you can’t draw, I’ve always said. Admire your figures and their casual perfection. Keep ’em coming; I look at your work (paintings)extensively before beginning a painting–they’re lessons in themselves.

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