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Art Masterclass - 60

September 2011 

 Art subject - child

From The Artist, the monthly magazine for amateur and semi-professional painters, giving practical instruction in painting and drawing in watercolour, pastels and oils, as well as news of art events, exhibitions and competitions open to leisure artists;


Features for portraits

By Ros Ingram


sketch of childStudy your subject

Begin by sketching your subject in several positions. Children don’t sit still for very long so try to sketch them quickly as they play. This is a great way to improve visual memory and the power of observation. It also helps you to understand your model’s personality and characteristics better and will, hopefully, result in a more accurate portrait.




Select the ideal photograph

I take as many good, clear photographs as possible, preferably outside in natural light, then choose one that inspires me. A good composition is obviously also important. Decide whether you want to depict the head alone, head and shoulders, or include the body as well.

Select a good photograph



Eyes reflect much of the personality of the person and should be drawn with as much accuracy as possible to achieve a good likeness.

In an adult, the eyes are generally at the centre of the face. In younger children the eyes tend to be below centre. And, remember, the eye is not flat but three dimensional, and sits within a hollow eye socket. Use appropriate shading to convey this.


There is, as a rule, approximately one eye width between the eyes.

I used pink madder lake to outline the eye and mixed sky blue, light blue and bottle green for the iris colours. Ivory black was used for the darkest part of the eye – the pupil – and chocolate and terracotta for further shading and the eyelashes.



The shape of a person’s nose is not directly related to the skull and therefore, there is considerable differences in shape and size.

Here are two examples of my subject’s nose from different angles




As with the eyes, the mouth is also key to capturing the model’s likeness and mood.



Faces with closed mouths avoid the need to draw teeth, which can be problematic and distracting.

Finished portrait, coloured pencil (37cmx30cm)


The finished portrait, coloured pencil, (37x30cm)


The full article, which is the first part in a new series on portraiture by Ros, can be found in the August 2011 issue of Leisure Painter

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