Well this was fun! Portrait artist Mark Nardini needed a volunteer from the audience to model for his classical painting technique demo for the Los Gatos Art Association’s March meeting. It’s been years since I’ve been on this side of the easel so I thought I’s give it a whirl (besides, they said I could take the painting home)!
This classical technique involves a careful tonal underpainting that’s very thin (in this instance it’s raw umber on a neutral grey background). It’s important to get this aspect just right as it will save the artist from struggling with accurate color placement later on. When color is introduced it’s in a very deliberate way, patting the premixed colors delicately with a soft sable-like brush that will not lift off the previous applications like a bristle brush might. Close observation of the subject is essential in judging the warmth or coolness of a hue or the value of a tone. Mark likes to start with a mid-tone when he begins with color, evaluating all other choices based on it’s relationship to that first one.
I was very impressed with what Mark was able to accomplish in such a short time, guiding us through his process and fielding questions from our members! I won’t give up my day job for modeling, that’s for sure!
Mark recommended the book, The Human Figure by John H Vanderpol. The more familiar you are with the figure in general, the easier it will be to tackle portraits:
Be sure to check out his website, ww.marknardini.com to see more gorgeous portraits like this one he that brought along with him: