Portrait, likeness, image (French portrait; Latin protrahere - bring to light, reveal, show; contrafacere - imitate) - an artistic image (painting, sculptural, graphic, drawing) of a specific person or group of people, showing an external resemblance and sometimes character traits of the portrayed.
My work on a portrait begins with contact (usually by e-mail), determining the formula and purpose of the portrait. After preliminary arrangements, including the image format, terms of payment and order completion time, it is necessary to formulate the expectations of the ordering party and provide information about the person. Most often it is a short information about temperament, character, sense of humor, behavior, personality, preferences, hobbies, etc. The next step is to deliver to me photographic material and possibly further refine the information. After receiving the advance payment of 50% of the agreed amount, I start work. Two-way communication is possible at each stage of image formation. The portrait is made to order and only the client's satisfaction ultimately verifies its value.
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A good oil portrait cannot be a reproduction or duplication of a photograph. Therefore, if possible, the best solution is to take a non-binding series of photos. The behavior of a person, facial expressions, way of being, attitude are important. At least one photo is necessary showing the features and oval of the face, the shape of the eyes, mouth, and the shape of the nose. Currently, due to the widespread use of digital image recording techniques, it is the most convenient and proven method. The quality of the photos does not matter - they are only a note and will not be processed on the computer. Sometimes taking a photo is impossible and the portrait is created based on the available materials.
One or several sequences made in different places and at different times is the most convenient basis for working on a portrait.
Charcoal or pencil sketches are the traditional and classic beginning of work on a painting. In the past, they were called cardboard boxes and allowed to define the composition, work out details or capture important elements of the facial expression of the person portrayed. Today, they make it possible to translate what we see in the photos into the effect we want to achieve.
The stain, layout, composition, general expression, impression and important details... The sketch allows you to process and define the final concept of the painting.
Working on a computer and digital image processing tools changed our attitude towards portraiture. Photography and its processing have dominated the creators. However, the oil portrait remained and, thanks to its uniqueness, became a special value. Frequent on the market and common in offers, photo prints on canvas painted with paints are a cheap alternative and a substitute for an oil portrait. This phenomenon cannot be condemned, but its place in art should be clearly defined, the more so as it existed in a slightly poorer forms since the 19th century, since the spread of good-quality printing techniques.
Several freehand baby faces painted directly on the monitor. They are illustrative. Sometimes this type of "fitting" can be helpful in working on an image.
There are different ways to work on a portrait. Most often, a general composition is built, the anatomy and shape are defined, and then details are worked out in the next stages. For me, however, it's more important to work on the essential details that make up the facial expressions and define the character of the characters. Proper painting of the eyes and their expression, capturing the relationship between the mouth and gaze, setting the head - are of fundamental importance and are the most difficult.
Eyes, lips, nose, eyebrow arches, face shape at the initial stage of portrait construction. These items require the most attention and work. The next stages provide a background that emphasizes the expression of the person.
An oil portrait is not only a painted image. Each element of the painting is important, both the stretcher, the type of canvas, the ground, and the varnishes used after the work is finished - everything must be adapted to the technique of the work. It is knowledge resulting from several hundred years of experience, and is now often forgotten or overlooked for the sake of time. There is no point in doing anything carelessly when you can do it right at almost the same expense. All the shortcomings in an oil painting can take revenge in a surprisingly short time.
A picture is an object, and its quality and the way it is treated shows respect for the person portrayed, the client and my own work. I create portraits in various formats and differently framed. Most often this is due to the nature of the order and the purpose of the finished painting. Sometimes, as requested and upon agreement, the client receives a portrait framed and ready to be hung on a wall in a specific interior.
Working on an oil painting, especially a portrait, takes time. There are contemporary painting materials that accelerate the chemical bonding of paints, but not always and not in every technique they are indicated. Glazes require the application of subsequent layers of transparent paint and it cannot be done "wet". Some paints take a long time to dry, others faster, and final varnishes should only be applied after the painting is completely dry. Therefore, each order must be estimated for at least 1-2 months. Of course, everything can be painted faster, using paints more sparingly and adding "accelerators", but this involves the risk of changes in the painting layer and durability of the picture, and this is one of the basic qualities of oil painting.