Painting From LifeThe Art Of Painting - Painting From Life - 1, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
If now you feel that you can sit in your saddle and know how to hold your reins, you may begin to trot. Paint from the living model, at first in monochrome. It is wiser to attack your difficulties one by one, until you are accustomed to them.
There is always something disconcerting in painting from the living model, and since the sense of solidity, and subtle modelling, are due to the relation of tones, it is well to cultivate the habit of reducing every part and every colour to its equivalent tone value.
Induce a patient relation or friend to sit for you. A professional model will give you the least trouble, should no one be anxious to sacrifice himself for your welfare. The head of an old person will be less embarrassing than that of a young one.
Study the lighting of heads by Velazquez and Van Dyck. A reproduction of one of them pinned on your easel, above the canvas, might well serve you as a guide. Arrange your sitter in a similar lighting and position, for you could have no better mentor than a good example of either master.
Do not hesitate to hold your brush against your model's face to ascertain its length, and make your study slightly smaller than life.
Draw and then shade in charcoal, and use a dry brush to model with. From time to time place your drawing alongside your sitter, on a level with, and as near as possible to, the face, and go back as far as you can to compare the drawing with nature, through the hand-glass.
My reason for advising you to keep your drawing in a line with the face is to obviate the doubt that often arises when the picture is nearer to one than the sitter, and, on examination in the glass, it appears to be on too large a scale, even though you know it to measure less than life.
Make all corrections while you can in the charcoal stage. Charcoal offers little resistance to a brush, and none whatever to bread. It is reckless in the extreme to put down paint with obvious errors in construction or drawing. Never fear ! there will be perplexities enough to contend with, in every case ; and much correcting in paint is fatal to lucidity.
Set the palette with raw umber, and the softer white, and use turpentine. One painting will not suffice to complete the study, so paint with the idea of going over it at least three or four times.
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