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#74 TONED PAPER WITH WHITE CHALK

Drawing on toned paper with charcoal and white chalk allows you to create impact. Similarly, you can paint a background wash on watercolor paper - and then draw on that.

The key is: don’t add too much white chalk. Less white looks more real and more appealing.

Image may contain: 1 person, drawing

#73 UPLIGHTING

When the lighting is from below, none of the shadows are in the usual places. The undersides of the brows, nose and bottom lip are light. The top of the head is in shadow. It feels strange to paint!

With the Balinese Dancer I had to keep reminding myself: "Just paint what you see and it will work out." This was done from sketches and photos I took.

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#72 COMPOSING WITH COLOR

Successful paintings will often have a dominant color that creates a mood. Having a dominant color is not a 'rule' or a requirement - but it is an option you may like to consider when composing any painting. Painting by Carolus-Duran...

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#71 SOMETHING DIFFERENT

It is easier to paint a beautiful bird than a beautiful person – birds are so colorful! And you have less trouble with the lips. For this watercolor portrait of a Balinese Peahen I took some photos.

For a change of pace, paint a bird portrait!

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#70 SEEING SHAPES

Beginners try to paint "noses" and "lips". They label "the bits" and paint what they "know" about the bits. But labels hinder observation. Instead, just observe the shapes of tone and color in your subject – as if it were a mosaic. Paint each abstract shape faithfully and you might be amazed at the end result.

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#69 PAINT YOURSELF!

Want to practice painting from life? Do some self portraits. You can play around with different angles, colors and lighting. There’s no pressure and the model never complains. Here’s my quick oil sketch from last week…

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#68 FOR OIL PAINTERS

It is always easier to paint on clean canvas - and more difficult to paint over old paint and old mistakes. So here’s a helpful habit to get into: keep a rag handy and next time you mess up a nostril or an eyeball, wipe off your mistake immediately.

Your next attempt will have a better chance of success.

#67 THE EAR

Beginners often draw ears with harsh black shadows – but shadows in the ears are rarely as dark as we think. Be subtle with shadows in the ears and your ears will look more realistic.

Below a portrait of Charlie I drew this week …

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#66 QUALITY IMAGES OF GREAT MASTERS WORKS

To see high resolution images of great paintings visit The Art Renewal Center. The online museum section features tens of thousands of works: www.artrenewal.org

#65 SHADOW AREAS

Shadows are not brown-black voids. In Lambert’s portrait most of the face is in shadow yet you can still see the features. When painting shadows it usually helps to: a) keep the colors more muted, b) minimise contrasts within the shadow areas and c) avoid lots of browns and black.

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#64 THE MOUTH

The greatest enemy of a realistic mouth is hard lines right around the edge of the lips. You need some soft transitions from skin to lip. Note how sensitively Vermeer softened the edge of the bottom lip…

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#63 COLOR vs VALUE

If your values are accurate but your color is not, your painting can still be convincing. If your colors are accurate but your values are not, you are dead in the water!

See Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Changed color in Photoshop – and still so beautiful even though she is green! Value is more critical than color.

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#62 WHAT"S IMPORTANT

How do you recognise a friend standing across the street? By their silhouette, their posture, the angle of the nose, the depth of the eye sockets, the size of their chin. It’s the masses that matter.

Amateurs get derailed by detail. But get the masses right and eyelashes, freckles and wrinkles become optional. Chase understood masses…

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#61 RECOMMENDED READING

OIL PAINTING SECRETS FROM A MASTER by Linda Cateura

The teachings of David Leffel: this is one of the very best books on painting. Practical advice on materials, color, shadows, values, backgrounds, thinking and seeing like an artist. If you like realism, there is so much to learn from this book: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780823032792/…

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#60 HEAD AND SHOULDERS PORTRAITS

When composing head and shoulders portraits, consider head tilt and neck rotation. Example A shows no tilt and no rotation. More interesting is when the head is at a different angle to the shoulders (B) or when the neck is rotated (C) – or both (D, E and F):

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#59 THINK DIFFERENTLY

It is possible to paint a beautiful portrait with the face in shadow - see Duveneck...

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#58 COLOR HARMONY

If you want more color harmony in your paintings, adding colors won’t help! Many of the masters – eg Rembrandt – painted with only about 6 colors in any one painting. Try doing the same. You might be amazed at how much easier it is.

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