The full portrait |

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The full portrait

To bring her series to a close, Ann Witheridge explains how to develop a full portrait, with tips from Archie Wardlaw on how to avoid some common compositional mistakes


When we think of portraiture, most of us just consider the head and not all the other elements that can describe a person. Indeed, so far in this series we have just looked at portraits as a study of a head and how to develop this. Portraiture appeals to so many of us because it is such an exacting and sophisticated art, focused on the actual face, the balance of values and colour in the portrait.

And yet as a sitter we are much more than just the relationship of our features and our five essential darks (eyes, nose, upper lip and cast shadow below lower lip). The mug shot is only part of who we are, but what other elements can we add to a portrait to continue to describe the character beyond a mere likeness?

When we look at someone, we might recognise them by their facial features but when asked to describe them we would describe their hair colour, their size, the clothes they wear. So when developing a portrait we should think about what defines us beyond our facial likeness; the clothes we choose to wear, the way we dress and the way we hold ourselves. Everyone has a natural way to stand, to sit, to tilt their head.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our August issue packed with practical, how-to articles and demonstrations to help inspire and guide your drawing and painting over the summer months. Our top team of professional artists and tutors are passionate about sharing their ideas and technical skills to help you learn from their experience. The issue is brimming over with features covering all media and subject matter, including advice from Paul Riley on the advantages and benefits of using water-mixable oils and Robert Dutton on how to incorporate the use of acrylic spray paints to great effect in your mixed-media work. Watercolourists will love the different approaches and ideas shared by Vivienne Cawson (flowers), Amanda Hyatt (tonal impressions), Geoff Hunt (working en plein air), Robert Brindley (street scenes) and Julie Collins, who offers some great ideas about colours and colour combinations for painting trees. All this and more, plus look out for the 'swipe for more images' and hand logo to see even more images from our wonderful artists. And don't forget to enter the last of our summer sketching competition challenges set by Adebanji Alade, with prizes up for grabs from GreatArt!