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How to Paint Portraits

I'm always amazed at Walter Foster's vintage titles: not only are they beautiful and rustic but the artistic tips and advice they provide are still just as relevant as when they were first printed! It goes to show that certain skills—like painting portraits—are truly timeless.

Today's featured vintage title is How Frances O'Farrell Paints Portraits:   

Images from the Walter Foster Publishing Archives

Frances offers the following advice in his introduction:

"Ability to draw is a must in portraiture. To draw accurately you must learn to see what you look at. First observe the proportions of the head and then the placement of features in their relationship to one another. Look for and see minute details that express the individual human being. Think in terms of solid form."

Frances' timeless advice on portraits is shown in the following lesson:

"Start your paintings with Bristle brushes of maximum size for the area to be worked. Use smaller brushes and fine Sables for later, more detailed work. Don't hesitate to introduce some heavier knife work to create interesting texture. Look for paint and tensions (contrasts): smooth against texture, light against dark, or cool against warm. If a painting dries thoroughly before it is finished, you must re-wet the surface with medium before you begin painting into it again."

The sidebar on the right highlights some of the latest titles on portraits currently available from Walter Foster, including the recent release: Acrylic Made Easy: Portraits

Which background would you give your portraits? 

Olivia Bartz

Olivia is the Marketing Intern for Quarto Publishing Group USA and is excited to graduate from UC Irvine this June with a B.A. in English. She is happiest when reading a good book or writing about her adventures abroad, and continues to be inspired by all things outdoors. Olivia loves to try out new art mediums and techniques but has yet to be disappointed by a pencil and sketchpad.   

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Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.

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