Category Archives: Art

Medium This Picture Is Not Just For Kids

Draw with Crayons | Lee Hammond | Artists NetworkHow to Draw with Crayons Like a Boss

There’s nothing more inspiring to me than buying and opening up a brand new box of Crayola crayons. I think anyone with an ounce of artistic ability fondly remembers coloring as a child. Just the word coloringmakes me happy.

A few years ago, I wrote a book about realistic crayon drawings. What a joy it was to create, for I hadbrought my childhood dream into my adult professional life. I wanted to share it with others, for few knew that crayons are actually a wonderful fine art medium. They’re not just for kids!

When teaching a class on how to draw animals, we covered mostly graphite and colored pencils, but one of my students wanted to draw with crayons. It was fun cracking open the box of Crayolas and giving the class a demonstration. I shared the illustrations I had done for the book, and we analyzed the characteristics of drawing with crayons.

I think the biggest problem people have when drawing with crayons is that they regress to being five years old again. They hold the crayon like they’re coloring again, instead of applying it like a fine art medium.

Another problem is that many people want to make it perform like colored pencils. While similar in application, they are quite different. You should not use crayons and expect them to behave like colored pencils. You’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Many crayon artists (you can find a few online) use solvents to soften their appearance. It can be a wonderful look but, personally, I love the pixilated look the crayon creates when applied just as is.

Look at the art examples in this post—you can see the speckled look crayon has when applied in layers. This adds to the realism, especially when creating an out-of-focus background, such as in these two images.

10 Tips for Creating Fine Art with Crayons

If you want to try your hand at working with crayons to create realistic drawings, here are 10 pointers:

1. Use Crayola. These are the best and have the best color saturation.
2. Use a paper that will grip the color evenly. I like Stonehenge or illustration board.
3. Have a good hand-held sharpener handy. Always try to keep a point on the crayon. This makes it go on more evenly.
4. Apply the crayon in a professional manner. Just like you would any other fine art tool, use control and be deliberate. Don’t become five years old again!
5. Build your colors gradually, and layer them. Apply a light undertone, and build darker colors slowly on top.
6. Crayons can actually be more difficult to layer with due to the high wax content. Don’t confuse them with colored pencils! If you want the “look” of colored pencil, just use that instead.
7. Some colors are more transparent than others. Some colors are very opaque. Test your colors on a separate piece of paper to see how they work together.
8. Too many layers of crayon can make the colors resist each other. This can make it harder to add more color. Use as few colors as possible to get your end result.
9. Scratch out small lines and details (such as hair, the veins in leaves and flowers, etc.) with a craft knife. Crayon is excellent for scratching due to the wax.
10. Do not get frustrated! You will need practice to get the look you want. It’s worth it!

Happy coloring, artists! Give yourself permission to play again. You may not think working in crayon can produce a professional look, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s all in how you use them!

Beginning Artist’s Guide to Perspective Drawing

Learn to Draw by Putting Things into Perspective

We’ve probably all heard (or even uttered) the phrase, “That really puts things into perspective.” Perspective is all about relativity; when you pull back and look at the larger picture and take a different view, maybe things aren’t so bad, or maybe there’s a solution where it seemed like there wasn’t before.


In Guide to Perspective Part 1, Connors shares basic perspective lessons and shows how you can learn to draw by seeing objects in a different way. In Part 2, Connors expands on those drawing lessons, demonstrating how to draw one- and two-point perspective; then, he applies those drawing techniques to complete a still life, step-by-step.
In the art world, perspective is still about your point of view, and the relationships of objects to one another. Only this time, it’s more spatial. When you learn to draw, you learn the importance of perspective. It’s all about how you look at the world, and that’s exactly what Patrick Connors teaches in his video, The Artist’s Guide to Perspective.

Preview Part 1 below to learn some great instruction about one-point perspective, then head over toArtistsNetwork.tv for both part one and two, access the materials list and more.

Why Perspective and Perception Go Hand-in-Hand

Although the fundamentals of perspective drawing seem to be rather straight to the point, the possibilities of how you can apply perspective in your art are vast. In fact, perspective is nearly synonymous with perception.

What I mean by this is you can use the principles of this technique to create your own perception of the world around you through your art. You have the power of illusion, the ability to make the viewer see what you want them to see, literally at your fingertips. You can alter how your art is perceived—all by just conquering the basics of perspective drawing. How empowering is that?

If you are thinking, “OK, that all sounds great, but how can I learn how to draw in perspective?” Well, to start, let’s go over a few key terms you should know before delving into perspective drawing pulled from the book, Perspective for The Absolute Beginner, by Mark and Mary Willenbrink.

Linear Perspective Terms

Visual depth is expressed through linear and atmospheric perspective, as well as color use. With linear perspective, depth is achieved through lines and the size and placement of forms. And though compositions can vary in complexity, the basic terms and definitions covered in this section are inherent to linear perspective drawings.

The horizon is the line for which the sky meets the land or water below. The height of the horizon will affect the placement of the vanishing point(s) as well as the scene’s eye level.

The vanishing point is the place where parallel lines appear to come together in the distance. In the picture, below, you can see how the parallel lines of the road recede and visually merge to create a single vanishing point on the horizon. A scene can have a limitless number of vanishing points.

The ground plane is the horizontal surface below the horizon. It could be land or water. In the image below, the ground plane is level. If it were sloped or hilly, the vanishing point–created by the path’s parallel lines–may not rest on the horizon and may appear as if it’s on an inclined plane.

The orthogonal lines are lines which are directed to a vanishing point; the parallel lines of railroad tracks, for example. The word “orthogonal” actually means right angle. It refers to right angles formed by lines such as the corner of a cube shown in perspective.

The vantage point, not to be confused with the vanishing point, is the place from which a scene is viewed. The vantage point is affected by the placement of the horizon and the vanishing points.

What is your typical Painting Personality?

How Your Painting Personality Affects Your Painting Process

A painting that was done on a failed, washed-off, previous painting; image courtesy of Richard McKinley

For many painters, the process of creating is filled with equal measures of enthusiasm and fear. This strange mixture of emotions comes into play in nearly every stage of a painting and, depending on the personality of the artist, can be either beneficial or detrimental.

The Beginning

In the beginning stages, painters often find themselves excited to start but intimidated by the blank surface. The apprehension to make the first mark can prove overwhelming. Where should it be? What value and color should it be? What if it is wrong? This is fear of commitment.

The crazy little voice in our head forgets this is the beginning and can easily be corrected. As I told a student one day in a workshop who was frozen at the easel pondering every possible pastel mark scenario, “Just close your eyes, pick up a pastel stick from the palette, and make a mark! Whatever and wherever it may be, you will have started the process and you’ll have something to respond to.”

Middle Stages

The mid-stages of a painting are where we often confront two scenarios: boredom or confusion. For the impatient painter, boredom is a curse that leads to hurried marks. The enthusiasm for the painting has waned and the artist just wants to be done.

Confusion is that point in a painting where we just don’t know what to do. We are driving along, liking what we see, and all of the sudden there is a tree across the road.

When these mid-painting scenarios occur it is best to stop, take a break and divert attention to a new project. This is much easier for pastelists than wet media painters who have to contend with drying. When you come back to the painting, a renewed motivation and clarity is often waiting.

Finishing Touches

For many artists, the finish of a painting is the most difficult stage. As Leonardo de Vinci wrote, “Artwork is never finished, just abandoned.”

This stage is where both enthusiasm and fear can play a major part. While excited to complete and place the signature, there is always that fearful voice, “Is it good? Maybe a little more will make it better!”

This is a tough stage. Many good paintings end up weaker with overwork, and many OK paintings could have been better with a bit more attention.

Individual personality really comes into play here. Some artists need to have the painting taken away, and others need to be encouraged to do more. One thing is certain: Major growth is always accomplished through taking chances and experimentation.

We grow and learn from our mistakes–nothing ventured, nothing gained. Worst-case scenario, you wash it off and start anew.

It seems then, painters are not that different than children. There are those who fearlessly enter into every situation full steam ahead, and those who cautiously wait at the sidelines, tentatively analyzing. Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

One Point Perspective Rules Always Remain

You Can Tilt Your Head, Wink, Blink or Rub Your Eyes — It Won’t Change a Thing

It’s nice to have a few things in our changing world that stay constant. The rules of one-point perspective definitely apply. Once you discover what is behind this aspect of linear perspective, you will be able to paint, draw, and sketch anything–from landscapes to the human body to still lifes–to look real and like it actually occupies the space you situate it.

One-Point Perspective–Defined

One-point perspective is a special example of linear perspective in which all receding parallel lines meet at a single point, called the vanishing point. An example often used is the illusion that a stretch of parallel railroad tracks seem to meet off in the distance though we know that isn’t true–but it is how the eye perceives distance. Artists can use this trick of the eye to create spatial depth in their paintings.

All the Parts

We’re all pretty familiar with what the horizon is. When you picture that set of railroad tracks, you can see where the flat land meets the sky; that imaginary line where sky meets land is the horizon. If we were at sea, the horizon would be the line where the sky meets the sea.

In one-point perspective the vanishing points lie on the horizon, so it’s important that we know where the horizon is. If your scene includes flat land or the ocean, you’re set. Finding the horizon is a snap; you can clearly see it. But suppose there are objects in the way, such as hills, and you can’t see the horizon, so you can’t tell where to place a vanishing point?

Scrap the term horizon and substitute eye level. They are the same thing, but while you can’t always tell where the horizon is, you do know where your eye level is: it’s an imaginary horizontal plane passing through your eyes. If you stand up, your eye level rises with you; if you sit down, your eye level lowers.

What If You Tilt Your Head?

When it comes to defining eye level, it doesn’t matter if you tilt your head up, down or sideways. You can wink, blink, close your eyes, rub them—no matter what you do, eye level always stays the same. It’s still a horizontal plane passing through your eyes, and that plane is parallel to the ground (which, after all, is what horizontal means). OK, so if you tilt your head to one side so one eye is lower than the other, then what? We’ll just split the difference and say eye level is a horizontal plane across the bridge of your nose, halfway between your eyes!

Complete Your First Perfect Painting Well

Pouring Paint, Tips and Tricks

Contemporary paintings often showcase a wide variety of special effects—especially when the imagery is abstract. (Think Jackson Pollock, Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler.) Many of those effects can be achieved by pouring acrylic paint. Pouring is a great way to smooth out unwanted texture, get marbleized effects, rich colored glazes, and add some fun to your painting process. Although pouring is a relatively simple technique, it is not always easy.

There are two categories for pouring acrylic paint: coated pours and wash pours. Each requires a different process and will produce different effects. The following helpful tips and tricks for pouring acrylic paint can help you navigate around the most common pouring problems…

Tips for Coated Pours

A coated pour can resemble oil paint and will intensify colors since glossy binders reflect light. Coated pours generally use a combination of acrylic paint and medium, with little to no water added. The paint creates a fluid shape or layer that sits upon the painting surface, as in Jackson Pollack’s layered drips and high-gloss finishes.

  • For best results, use a pouring medium and keep any water additions to less than 40%.
  • Pouring mediums come in both thin and thick viscosities. Each will produce different effects. To determine quantities, a good rule of thumb is to plan on about 2 ounces of thin pouring medium to cover an 8” x 10” (20cm x 20cm) surface, and three ounces for thicker pouring mediums.
  • Avoid haphazardly adding water to thin pouring mediums. Try using the medium on it’s own first to determine whether adding water is necessary.
  • Allow any excess medium to spill over the sides of the painting surface by propping up the surface with containers or blocks at all four corners.
  • Use a leveling device to ensure the pour will remain level while drying.
  • Use a rigid substrate to prevent buckling while pouring acrylic paint. If using stretched canvas, be sure to prop up the center to keep it from sinking.
  • Before pouring, apply a stain sealer, then prime with gesso. This will prevent stains from coming through the surface into the poured layer.

Dragon Breath by Bonnie Teitelbaum, acrylic on panel, 22 × 22.Several coated pouring mixtures were pre-made using color and medium in separate cups, then poured while all were still wet, allowing the colors to overlap. Article contributions by Christina Richards.

Tips for Wash Pours

A wash pour can resemble watercolor and will mute colors since it uses heavy amounts of water to dilute the acrylic. This encourages the paint to sink into the painting surface, as in Helen Frankenthaler’s stained canvas effects.

  • For best results, do no use any mediums.
  • Heavily dilute the paint with water, at least a 1-1 ratio.
  • Consider the effect the surface absorbency will have on the result. A wash pour on a glossy surface will break apart into interesting shapes variegations. A wash pour on matte and absorbent surfaces, such as watercolor paper, will soak into the surface to produce an even colored stain.
  • Change the surface absorbency by adding acrylic paste or gel before you begin pouring acrylic paint.
  • Try to minimize handling of the piece. Instead let the paint and water move around on their own while drying. The most interesting effects with wash pours often come out of happy accidents.
  • Fluid acrylics will offer more intensity of color in wash pours than heavy body acrylics will.
  • You can also substitute acrylic inks, high-flow acrylics and airbrush colors in most wash pour techniques for alternate effects.

Big Yellow by Mary Morrison, acrylic on canvas, 42 × 46. A variety of soft and hard-edge forms are created with wash pours on canvas. Modern colors are used for the washes, keeping the color intensity bright.

Nancy Reyner & More Solutions for Perfect Paintings

Nancy Reyner has been painting for more than thirty years and she exhibits and teaches both nationally and internationally. Her video workshop, Perfect Painting Solutions, offers a multitude of techniques and ideas with the intent to give artists everywhere the ability to turn any painting into perfection. That means troubleshooting colors that go too dark, correcting problems in both realist and abstract work, how to take your inspiration and turn it into a painting that will attract a viewer’s eye, and more. Let Nancy coach you through all the issues you will face so that you get a painting that is perfect for you–all with Perfect Painting Solutions.

10 Painting Principles Every Painter Should Know Each painter

10 Painting Principles from Oil Painter Gregg Kreutz

1. The four stages of painting are placement, background, shadow and light.
2. To paint something convincingly, you have to determine local color, shadow color, turning color and highlight color.
3. Dynamics (high contrast, color, paint thickness, and so forth) bring passages forward (see Fish Market Dawn, below).

4. Paint relationships—not isolated things or people.
5. Everything is either light against dark, dark against light or same against same.
6. Paint passages in the light thickly (see Fall at the Farmer’s Market, below).

7. Light turns gently into shadow and emerges crisply from the shadow.
8. Every object needs a form shadow (see Up the Lane, below).

 

 

9. Shadows are dark versions of local color.
10. Highlights are never on the starting edge (see Golden Earring, below).

Which of these painting principles are your favorites? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to share with us any painting must-dos that were not listed above.

Mixing Color for Acrylic

I’m always happy to talk about color, and this past year has taken me on a few colorful adventures. Since I always travel with my camera, I make a point to record things that inspire me.

I spent seven months last year in Northeast Ohio and enjoyed greens I haven’t seen since my many years of living in California. With the West’s dusty, drought-tolerant greens or its deep forest shades, I had forgotten the lively array of colors the warmer Ohio seasons bring.

With spring’s perky, acid-toned bright greens and the soft pale colors of the first leaves to the luscious and full greens during the summer. Each variety brings its own special formula into the picture. And, speaking of formulas, let’s learn about mixing greens in acrylic.

Avoid Being Green with Envy with Other Artists’ Color Mixing

In my book, Acrylic Color Explorations, there’s a lesson on how to get a range of greens using a single color of blue pigment and just changing the yellow pigments. It’s good to start your mixing lessons with transparent pigments so you can see the clarity of the greens created.

Get to know your paints. Scribble on a piece of paper with a pencil. Paint over your scribble. This will tell you how cloudy or clear your color is.

When you look at areas of green in nature, notice how they are not all exactly the same. For a natural look, you want a variation of green to imply where something might be hit by sunlight or hidden in shadow.

When you start mixing greens, take note of the ratio of yellow to blue for the brighter, sharper greens or the ratio of blue to yellow for the deeper ones. Once you have developed a solid range you’re satisfied with, introduce Titanium White to your mixes and see how the paints lighten up.

Your ratio of white to the mixture is also important. Too much white can overwhelm the green mixture and wash it out. Try the same exercise with a little Bone Black added to your green mixtures. This will bring a deepness and richness to your formula.

The Roads We Traveled (mixed media on canvas, 18×18) by Chris Cozen. This analogous composition builds on the range of colors of yellow-green through blue-green on the color wheel. With the addition of Titan Buff paint and paper elements, this active composition balances the bright and soft tones of these compatible colors and takes advantage of the full range of values possible.The collage elements also add movement and focus to the composition.

Get Your Glaze On

What happens when we go too far one way or the other? That’s where glazing comes in. You can always create a lighter or darker green glaze. Just mix your original formula with glazing medium, and apply the color over your original.

Sheer glazes are built by using a 6:1 ratio of medium to paint. Remember, the more pigment you use the less sheer the glaze will be.

Glazing is an excellent way to play with the surfaces of green areas as well. Want to create a shadow? Add a little glaze layer of Dioxazine Purple or Payne’s Gray over an area and see it shift.

Favorites for Green Color Mixing

Of course, there are plenty of green pigments/paints out there in the marketplace to choose from. I have a few favorites of my own. I use green-gold (Golden), chromium oxide green, and sap green hue as mixers.

  • Green-gold leans heavily toward yellow. I often substitute it for yellow to mix with my blues when I want a unique green.
  • Chromium oxide green is a dense opaque pigment, which is a great base color for starting a field of green. Mix loosely with white and Titan Buff, brush on rapidly with lots of movement and you’ll get a lovely “start” for a field.
  • I turn to sap green hue when I want some quick depth, especially in a glaze. Its formula has some black in it which adds a lot of richness to the glaze.

All in all, mixing greens is pretty fun. You can take any color on the blue to blue-green spectrum and add any yellow to create an array of greens to work with.

Color mixing is an adventure as well as an investment in your painting process. The goal is to get to know the pigments you own and fully explore their potential! You should aim to be fluent in color so you can readily mix any color you may need.

You can find more great ideas in my book as well as in the instructional videos I created as a companion toAcrylic Color Explorations by checking out my bundle at North Light Shop. Each of the DVDs covers techniques for using color in various ways.

The Most You Need to Know Before Drawing should be with Markers and Ink

Learn to Draw with Markers and Ink like a Pro

Drawing with markers offers almost instant gratification—markers are simple to use, require little prep time and dry quickly. Because the marking material is fluid, the smooth marks are unlike those made by dry drawing mediums.

Drawing with markers will offer you a range of brilliant color that surely will excite your creativity. They’re ideal for creating loose lines, calligraphic designs and precise technical illustrations.

One drawback to using them is that it’s not easy to correct mistakes. To work successfully, you need a bit of confidence and some drawing experience.

The many different types of markers go by various names, such as art markers, marker pens, artist pens, brush pens and paint markers. Art pens and markers come in every color you can imagine and can be purchased in sets to save money. They vary in size and tip shape and are further distinguished by their colorant, which can be dye, ink or paint, and alcohol-, water- or solvent-based.

Different Types of Markers

When learning how to draw with markers, it’s important to consider the different types. Three common kinds of markers are listed below: alcohol-based, water-based and solvent-based. Knowing the different qualities of each will help you choose which markers are best for your drawing needs.

Alcohol-Based

These markers are fast-drying and waterproof. They don’t smell as strong as solvent-based brands, but they can still cause eye or respiratory irritation. Make sure your workspace is well ventilated.

Because alcohol-based markers dry quickly, the paper you work on doesn’t stay wet and is less likely to be torn as you layer colors. Popular brands among artists and designers include Prismacolor, Letraset Tria and Copic, whose pens are refillable. Sharpies, the all-purpose permanent markers, are also alcohol-based.

Water-Based

Because they are odorless and safe to use, water-based markers are the best choice for children. But adults can obviously make good use of them, too.

Some have brush tips made of foam or dense fiber. Others are chisel-shaped or have nylon brush tips that distribute the color.

Water-based paint markers, such as Sakura Permapaque markers, are opaque, generally quick-drying and water-resistant when dry.

Most brush pens and markers are water-based and have flexible nylon or foam tips shaped like traditional brushes. They make marks similar to small round bristle brushes and have a similar feel in the hand.

Many brush markers are double-ended, with a fine point on one end and a wider tip on the other. Brush pens and markers often use acid-free ink, which is ideal for calligraphic work, art journals and book arts. Try Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo, Pitt Artist Pens, Pentel Brush Pens or Marvy Brush Markers.

Solvent-Based

This type of marker creates brilliant color and is waterproof and long-lasting. A popular solvent-based brand for design and drawing is Chartpak Ad markers, whose solvent is xylene.

The solvents in markers can be xylene, methyl isobutyl ketone or butyl acetate, all of which can cause dizziness, headaches and nausea. Markers with these solvents should be used only in studios with excellent ventilation. Solvent-based markers aren’t suitable for children.

Many paint markers are solvent-based and opaque. You can use paint markers on porous and nonporous surfaces. They’re generally waterproof, but not necessarily permanent.

Paint markers are most useful for craft or decorative projects and signage. Shake them to mix the paint inside, and ensure your workspace has proper ventilation. This marker type, which come in many colors including metallics, can be blended with Turpenoid or other solvents.

Using Dip Pens

Long before markers hit art store shelves, artists drew with pen and ink. Dip pens have been made from reeds or quills since ancient times. The simplest is a Japanese hand-carved bamboo pen that has its shaft shaped into a tip that can be dipped into a pot of ink.

A bit more refined is a pen with an interchangeable metal nib held in a simple wooden or plastic handle. Drawing nibs are pointed metal tips that are somewhat flexible so the lines produced are thicker or thinner depending on the pressure of the hand.

Similar nibs are also available in pens that hold a reservoir of ink inside the handle, like a fountain pen, obviating the need to dip the pen into a pot of ink. The reservoir can be a disposable or refillable cartridge.

Mechanical pens have a metal, needle-like tip instead of a nib and produce a controlled line of predetermined width from 0.13 to 1.4 millimeters. Mechanical pens can be used for precise drafting and technical work or for sketching, although the unchanging width can become monotonous.

Black India ink is pigment-based ink that is permanent, lightfast and waterproof. Colored inks are acrylic- or shellac-based and can be thinned with water. Some colored inks aren’t lightfast and shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Drawings

Now that we have covered the basics, here are three easy tips for drawing with markers and ink.

  • Line and wash: First do a line drawing in pen or ink. When it’s dry, add light washes with markers, watercolor or brush and ink. If the initial drawing is done in water-soluble ink, the wash will soften the ink lines, creating an interesting fusion of line and tone.
  • Layering: Markers lend themselves perfectly to blending and layering color. Start with the lightest colors, building up rich layers of color and texture. Colorless blenders, such as those from Prismacolor and Chartpak, can be used to soften edges and combine colors.
  • Combining media: Watercolor brush markers can be blended and lightened with a brush dipped in water or can be used in combination with traditional watercolor
    techniques.

Tips for Choosing the Right Lighting for Your Art Studio

You found the perfect spot to make art but the lighting, well, isn’t all that enlightening. Maybe, you enjoy painting at night or on gloomy days but you need brightness to truly see your process unfold.

Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to illuminating your creative space. Artist Koo Schadler shines some light on how to choose the right art studio lighting.

Let There Be Light … In Your Art Studio

Natural light, often referred to as full-spectrum light, is generally considered the best illumination to work under. Unfortunately, the term “full-spectrum lighting” has no fixed definition.

The phrase is used by the lighting industry to denote bulbs that mimic the properties of sunlight, but some bulbs designated this way perform better than others.

What to Look For

The color-rendering index (CRI) indicates a light’s ability to illuminate color accurately. The sun has a CRI of 100. Bulbs with a CRI of 80 to 100 are best at revealing vibrant, natural hues.

The correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in Kelvin, refers to how warm or cool a light appears. Too warm a bulb may tint work reddish yellow, whereas too cool of a light can turn things blue.

For a good balance of warmth and coolness, look for bulbs with a CCT of 5500 K, the equivalent of the midday sun. If you prefer cooler light, akin to north light, look for bulbs rated 7500 K.

Luminosity or brightness is also important to consider. The formulas for measuring brightness are complicated. Suffice to say that you want as many fixtures as needed to give yourself ample illumination.

This may sound obvious, yet I’ve been in many under-illuminated studios that just needed another fixture or two to remedy the problem.

Where to Buy

Many hardware stores sell fluorescent bulbs with good CRI and CCT numbers (read the packaging carefully). I’ve seen 80 CRI/5500 CCT compact fluorescents for as little as $3 a bulb. Online stores sell bulbs as well, but shop around, as prices vary tremendously.

Make sure the bulb you buy is compatible with your existing fixtures. Rows of fluorescent tube ceiling lights provide good luminosity but are costly.

A more affordable option is to install strips of track lighting that can be plugged into existing outlets and outfitted with screw-in, compact fluorescents. I recommend you employ an experienced electrician for any electrical work.

Do This To Achieve a realistic eye painting

Portrait Art That Is Realistic and Compelling Starts Here

Have you ever paid attention to how body language expresses an unspoken language? It’s fascinating how even minor movements can send a message of tension, flirtation, or annoyance. While some of this comes from subtle hand gestures or posture, much of it comes from the “windows to the soul”–the eyes.

Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen by Frans Hals. “The eyes are the single most important feature in a portrait,” says painting instructor Luana Luconi Winner. “Take time to resolve the eyes’ true character, and the subject of the portrait will be unquestionably recognized.” Article contributions by Cherie Haas.

Think Like a Sculptor

Try this exercise in thinking like a sculptor from portrait artist Luana Luconi Winner. Start by considering your work in terms of planes. Imagine starting with a large mass and carving away everything that doesn’t relate to the shape of the head. Then carve the largest planes into this head-shape, indicating where the form sits in the shadow. The cavities of the eye sockets, nostrils, ears, and corners of the mouth should be deep enough to maintain the shadow and yet describe the most general of shapes. Next, chip away the smaller planes, indicating more subtle changes of planar direction. These planes create movements of form in the mid-values. The final touches help activate highlights.

Paint Like a Sculptor

When you paint like a sculptor, you go from the general to the specific. You apply the paint as broadly as if you were a sculptor creating the shapes. First you mass in the shadows, allowing them to connect on the dark side of the form. Next you develop the mid-values, taking care with the direction and placement of your strokes as you turn them in and out of the form. Then you refine the details with touches that reinforce the direction of light and, finally, you drop in the highlights.

Look Into the Eyes

1. Establish the blueprint

With a relatively dry brush, draw a trapezoid into which you can build the eye socket. Use burnt sienna and ivory black to make a color similar to burnt umber. The color at this dry-sketch stage establishes the footprint where you’ll build the flat planes. Inside the socket, paint a circle for the eyeball. In the center of this circle, draw two concentric circles that look like the bull’s-eye of a target.

2. Add darks

Place a small arrow as a reminder of the direction of light (you can paint over the arrow later). Create a thin, dark mixture of burnt sienna and ivory black to drybrush inside the eye socket and on the shadow side of the eyeball.

3. Place mid-values

Fill the pupil with ivory black. Place a thin mixture of cobalt blue with a touch of ivory black in the iris, the colored part of the eye indicated by the middle circle. To simplify laying in the upper and lower lids, continue to use geometric shapes. Mix yellow ochre and alizarin crimson into the dark mixture described in step 2 and add a little white. Place a triangle of this mid-value skin-tone mixture on the shadow side of the eye on the upper and lower lids. Lighten the mixture with white and place two triangles on the upper and lower lids on the light side.

4. Blend skin and add eyebrows

Add yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, a touch of ivory black, and white to the mid-value mixture on the palette to create a realistic skin tone for the more lighted areas. Then add new planes to areas around the eye, including the forehead, cheekbone, and eye socket.

Add the eyebrow with ivory black, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. Use brisk strokes up and outward to “grow” the eyebrows.

5. Blend and soften

Blend and soften areas into one another so that the transitions between the shadow, mid-value, and light areas connect. Add warmth to the inner and outer corners of the eye with alizarin crimson and cadmium red at the tear duct (where the eyelids meet on the left).

Soften the depth of the darkest shadows by lightly feathering your brush over those areas with mid-value skin color. Make certain there’s a change in value to represent the shadow that the thickness of the eyelid casts on the eyeball.

6. Add highlights and appearance of moisture

Add highlights to the brow bone, the upper lid, the lower lid, and the cheekbone to further indicate the direction from which the light falls on the face. The only place in the demonstration where you may use pure white is a catchlight placed at the two o’clock position between the iris and the pupil. This catchlight is actually a reflection on the cornea, the clear coating over the iris and pupil. In this demonstration, the light hits the cornea (indicated by the catchlight), travels through the cornea in a straight path, and then lands at the seven o’clock position of the “eye circle.” The light then floods the surface of the iris in that area and lightens local color.

The indication of moisture in the eye will bring it to life, so add a touch of white to represent moisture on the lower lid where it meets the iris. In this demonstration, the direction of the light also creates a reduced-value highlight on the tear duct.

Soften the transitions, feather out edges and assess your progress. Reduce the depth of shadow in the socket to make this eye look less tired. Adjust highlights in small increments, blending along the brow bone and rounding out this bone from the shadow depths. Do the same for the zygomatic bone (the high cheekbone under the eye) blending outward and upward.

Easy on the Eyes

Learn the construction of the eye and its depth of placement in the eye socket, and you’ll achieve lively, moist-looking eyes with minimal trouble. Keep in mind that each step is simplified when you think in terms of planes and geometric shapes. If you are ready to take the next step in portrait art to paint equally lifelike ears, mouths and noses, get your copy of Beautiful Portrait Painting in Oils by Chris Saper. This is the resource that will carry you forward in portrait art with informative, fun and engaging ways to paint portraits you will be proud to call your own.