Core skills: Painting the head
In the final instalment of his oils series, Howard Lyon reveals how he focuses on seeing key shapes, using this technique to paint a portrait piece
Identifying key shapes helps Howard Lyon to paint a portrait in oils.
When painting the head of a portrait piece, begin by looking for the large shapes. Identify the shadow shapes and make sure they’re established. I’ve found that if you squint at your subject it can make identifying shapes and ignoring details easier.
I’ll often tint my canvas with a warm colour and then paint in the shadow shapes with a rich brown such as burnt umber or raw sienna.
With your shadow shapes identified your painting should look like your subject. If it doesn’t, make corrections at this stage because it’s much easier to make big changes now, rather than later on.
Now establish your colour in the light side and develop the forms. Try to make each brush stroke count, mixing the right value and colour and painting in the correct shape. Maintaining this focus throughout the painting will help keep you from wasting effort and time.
Learning to draw and paint is a lifelong and fulfilling process, so learn to enjoy the journey. Howard has worked as an illustrator and art director as well as a fine artist for galleries and collectors. You can see his art at www.howardlyon.com.