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Study of Portraits

edited December 2017 in Painting
0. Under painting stage but very similar to Sargent's paintings. All the values are present. Complete in itself.

1. Very rough handling; Only putting the right values and not smoothing the paint. Body of the paint is thick but luminous due to Maroger medium. Focus on form.

2. Again a very rough handling but paint has less body. Focus on tone.

3. Almost a later stage of No. 2. but edges of all the color being blurred with brush but not mixing all the colors that are there though. Focus on form and value.

4. Similar to No.3 but economy of strokes is a highlight. Focus on form and value.

5. Are extensions to No.3&4 but more smooth but existing values were not disturbed. Focus on paint surface.

6. A more blended approach for the face. Very few hard edges. Paint surface is very smooth but the starting faze is similar to No.2. Focus on paint surface.



  • In terms of the style, no 4 is my favourite.
  • I more than like number one because of its intensity, depth, and passionate use of color.  A fine example of why photographs haven't succeeded in killing off fine art. 
  • edited April 2017
    Except for Leffel's, all the others have but one style with many stages of finish. I belong to somewhere between 1. And 2. I like painting rough.
  • Is Leffel's number 5?

  • Richard_P said:

    Is Leffel's number 5?

    @Richard_P no it is No1.
  • I admit, I like all of them. Each one for his own style and choices he/she made... when I scroll through them, I can feel a big difference of intensity in the eyes... not sure if this has to do with the painting technique or the models and their characters... for me it has not only to do with the fact that some of them look straight in our eyes...  interesting to scroll up and down and think about it! Thank you Kaustav!

  • EstherH said:

    I admit, I like all of them. Each one for his own style and choices he/she made... when I scroll through them, I can feel a big difference of intensity in the eyes... not sure if this has to do with the painting technique or the models and their characters... for me it has not only to do with the fact that some of them look straight in our eyes...  interesting to scroll up and down and think about it! Thank you Kaustav!

    @EstherH ; I think it has to do with models, artists own impression of the model and a particular mood that the artists was trying to create.
  • #5 above really grabs me. The values are perfect and the brushwork and texture are delicious to look at. When/if I ever start painting portraits that's the sort of thing I'd have in mind.
  • #6. For a portrait of a lovely lady, thats it for me. A style that presents beauty and the eyes are great. Like leffels "brashness" though. They are all great really. 
  • What a pleasure to look at these!
  • Wow. Did you paint all of these? #1 of David Leffel looks exactly like his self-portrait. He is considered the modern day Rembrant and you seem to have nailed his work stroke for stroke exactly. I honestly cannot tell the difference! Awesome.
  • @TaylorI No no! I didn't paint any of these. I can't paint like these masters. These are just close-ups of originals. I posted these for everyone to study the techniques of these masters. It is almost the same technique that has different stages of development.
  • @Kaustav oh! Thank you for the clarification. That is very kind of you to do. What a great idea to just paint faces.
  • This is a very beautiful portrait by Jeremy Lipking. Let's analyze this portrait below.

    You may think that it is polished because you are seeing it small above (like a magazine or internet photo). There are more things. Below are some of the details.
    There is a huge amount of roughness and abstraction in the face area.
    But like Mark said - 'his values are right'! Think about how abstract
    the other areas could be.

    I also analyzed the impact of light upon edges. Without a very keen attention onto the edges a subject cannot look three dimensional. This is totally dependent on re-creation of the effect of light hitting the surface. Observe the brushwork to create movement.

    Let's look at the top of the head.

    he has almost three areas of value:
    1. Just outside the endline of the head there is a very faint edge, which signify thin layer of hair.
    2. Violet colored area. This received reflected light.
    3. Dark area. It is just totally obstructing the light. But still there are some small lighter hairs.

    Same principles were followed for this white blanket. Observe the brushwork to create movement.

    Same principles were followed in the background. Notice the edges - either sharp or hazy. It depends upon the plane. Also notice that the background, blanket and the hill do not have too much paint layers. May-be just one or two coats.
  • edited April 2017
    Beautiful painting and a good analysis @Kaustav. Those details - edges, reflected light and brushwork - make a world of difference. Without them this painting would be flat and unconvincing. I think one of the big things in painting is learning how to see. I mean learning to really tune in to what can be seen and forgetting what we know or think should be there.  In this picture the painter has left out a lot of distracting detail, (in the background for example) that would take our focus away from the figure. So knowing what to leave out is also important.

    Thanks for posting this.
  • @tassieguy   Seeing, understanding and knowing how to execute are the only problems in painting in terms of technicality. 
  • Thanks @Kaustav You are becoming quite the professor. I'm learning a lot from your work and your advice.
  • It is a wonderful painting :)
  • Watch how Vladimir Volegov plays with color. Never becomes muddy! It is always fresh.

  • I like the range of colors he uses, this expresses a lot and makes such good sense.

  • I like the range of colors he uses, this expresses a lot and makes such good sense.

    Volegov uses a lot of bright colors, especially whites and yellow but the magic lies is his muted colors for reflected light.
  • edited May 2017
    It's wonderful just how he does that! I may try copying this one as an exercise sometime soon. 
  • This is really great post! Thanks for your insights. 
  • one think I continuously check is group on facebook named "Hi Resolution Paintings and Close Ups!". People are sharing mostly hires photographs of paintings. It is always pleasure to see closeup of any master painting.
    I found there for example this painting from Sorolla - those brush strokes, just amazing. I will be happy to hear analysis on this one :)

    Here is the link for FB group.. 
  • Thanks @Jaromir for sharing the link!
  • It is a great exercise done by the master. All the aspects such as values (logical), abstraction, tone, shapes (presumably), edges and modeling are perfect,

  • About the video of Volegov. So this kind of paint handling will be able with Geneva paints or not? How difficult it is to paint over the top of other paint layer? I saw a video from Lipkin, showing his portrait painting process. He made a base of flash tone and after that he started to "draw" in all the features like eyes etc. I guess Geneva paint is not ideal for this kind of painting, right? 
  • @Jaromir well, if you are following Mark's DMP method the painting process is both simple and complex. You will determine all the colors in the beginning but determining everything at the starting point needs time, careful attention and practice. But the thing is that you won't be inventing too much; once your values and tones are in place, you can just work on the details and shapes by pushing or putting more paint.

    This is a small area of Lipking's painting. He uses optical mixing technique (broken color). But in DMP you can mix the exact colors and put them side by side to achieve similar effect. 

  • Kaustav said:
    But in DMP you can mix the exact colors and put them side by side to achieve similar effect. 

    This fine point really struck a chord with me.  These days I have to decide in advance the method I will use for a particular painting.  I don't use the same method for every painting.  Some day I hope to settle down with one unique style of painting that will be my signature style--years from now I fear--haha.  Summer
  • edited June 2017
    Hi Everyone,

        What color groups should I aim if I want to paint something like this?


    The skin seems to have lots of colors and values....
  • I see red and yellow ochre, raw sienna too. but Kaustav would have a more expert opinion.
  • edited June 2017
    Hmm yes Bob it has so many colors that it's confusing whether I should make steps for all the colors or make just for reds/skin color and then change the color of similar value a bit to match ochres and sienna...
  • @rautchetan and @BOB73 going with this particular picture, without complicating things I would say: 
    1. Face and hair a single color group. I would put reds, greens and yellows of similar values side-by-side.
    2. Background a separate color group.
    3. Collar as another one.

    I don't know if you'd agree to this but this will work for me if I am following Mark's method. This only has one subject. No need to complicate things here.
  • This thread is really a meaning topic!
  • @Kaustav ;  what a wonderful topic and examples.  Thank you for this.
  • This is becoming more significant and meaningful as time goes on here. Absolutely fantastic!
  • @Kaustav ;  I just wanted you to know that I keep coming back to this thread over and over again - thank you so much for taking the time to post all of this.
  • Kaustav and Dencal especially are the real serious students here along with Summer and some others they have studied and experimented so they can take the complex and break it down in terms we (the novices) can understand. Thank you professors.
  • Thanks @Forgiveness ; @Julianna ; and @BOB73 ; @chirchri ; @rddionne ; People get distracted by brushwork, colors, texture etc. but they overlook the factors such as values, abstraction, random shapes, overall shapes, edges, a good composition, a great theme. Without these good realism is impossible. Face portraits are easiest once one understands these concepts.
  • @Kaustav and the thing that I love about your work is you never lose sight of a good composition and great themes.  I love paintings that show the soul of the artist and you are genius at that. 
  • edited June 2017
    Here is a lesson by Andrew Tischler. I think most of the learners must focus more on the sketch that he did rather than the finished piece. Finished painting is heavily detailed. 

  • edited June 2017

    Great demo, very interesting approach, fantastic artist "Russel", wonderful studio. I met someone quite like him in 1984 not far from where I live who made cement sculptures (life size figures) some real weird like assortment of clowns and friendly aliens, most in a dancing gesture like, quite elegant, placed all over his countryside property, quite fantastic to view especially in person, I still have photos in 35mm slides.

  • Tischler is so lovely to watch - I purchased his seascape dvd and have watched it over many times - I love how much passion Tischler has and how he seems to love every moment of painting and discovery.  He was offering his cattleman/rancher portrait dvd for free about a month ago - I'll be glad when he gets settled into his new home in NZ so he can start posting more videos.  And that portrait he did of the man who started langrin oil paints, that smoke is fantastic!  Thank you for sharing.
  • I watched the short version of the "stockman" There's no question he is a great realist but I'm not sure he can describe and explain things in a way that I can really understand. I've seen five or six of his videos. Does he simplify things well enough? What do You think @Julianna?
  • @BOB73 I think Mark's silver cup video is enough for painting a single object.
    A portrait has more dents than a silver cup due to the bone structure and there is texture too. This needs careful observation. Dents can simply be represented by placing correct values. After that comes modelling, texture and highlights.

    Tischler puts values in the beginning similar to any other painter but unfortunately these sections are sped up. There is nothing I can add to Mark's teachings in relation to values and abstraction. But carefully observe the edges in relation to the light on various slopes of the source. Mark mentioned this in one of his classes (painting of a blue jar in front of his students). This is difficult to spot for new painters, they see mostly the big things. But without proper attention to the edges a main subject will look like paper cutouts. Edges are also a part of values but difficult to notice.

    You can follow Tischler's detailing process afterwards. Not many good videos are present on YouTube that show how to take a face or a landscape to another level. For landscapes, I think his are the only good realistic ones (apart from Baumann's but it needs some understanding). All the others are more into Bob Ross.
  • @BOB73 ; he simplifies things in his videos but unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot paint a wave like he can - even when slowing down his dvd step by step.  For me, he has a complicated palette, so there is that.  I really love the limited palette with Geneva oils and Mark's videos.  I try to grab bits and pieces from everyone and anyone whom I admire and respect - I am having a great deal of fun and truly enjoying painting again.  It's funny, but it seems that Kaustav has watched many of the same videos online that I have so when I see him post, I just nod my head in amazement.  It truly is amazing how much one can learn from youtube.  @Kaustav is the expert and is great with compiling information for topic discussions.  @BOB73 ; when are you going to start painting?  I would love to see or hear that your are putting brush to structure - you are very knowledgeable and I really treasure your input on this forum.
  • @Julianna I think painting itself is mostly about clarity about the vision, restraint, acute observation and knowing how to execute. If all of these are clear then there shouldn't be a problem. With practice skill improves.

    And I am no expert :# I created this post to make it clear to myself! :#
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