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Digital Subscriptions > Leisure Painter > Jul-17 > A true likeness

A true likeness

Part 2 Follow Martin Ash step by step as he paints a portrait of a child using pastel pencils and soft pastel



How to paint pastel portraits

Practise pastel techniques suitable for all subjects

How to produce a realistic likeness of your subject

I hope that last month’s look at materials and techniques for achieving pastel portraits has been useful and that, having practised with your own pastels, you’re ready to follow my demonstration of the painting of Darcie (below).

Young children hardly stay still long enough to be photographed, let alone painted! If your subject is an active toddler you have no choice. In 15 minutes I took 133 photographs of Darcie, a very alert and lively three year old. Of those photos, 50 were blurred, with the face turned away or just not the right expression – and the latter ones show she became bored. I printed a shortlist of 36 images, 12 to a page for easy side-by-side comparison. This is a vital exercise if you have a lot of similar pictures, and Darcie’s parents narrowed this to 12, which still made a difficult choice.

You have to know and be able to take what you need from photographs to make them suitable as reference material. A word of warning: photographs taken too close to the subject will distort the face into what I call the back-of-spoon effect. I therefore photograph a face from several feet away using the zoom facility. This puts the whole head within the depth of focus, is less distracting to the subject and so results in a more natural and unselfconscious pose. Numerous photographs provide alternative viewpoints and light sources and, of course, limitless time to study your subject.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to this month's issue of Leisure Painter. Within these pages you'll find everything you need to learn to draw and paint successfully from how to render beaches and landscapes, buildings, flowers, portraits and birds to how to develop your artistic skills as you work on composition, perspective, tonal values, painting from photographs and colour mixing. Do you want to loosen up your style or work on detail with the smallest brushes? Do you need to know more about which materials to buy, or are you simply ready to take out your colours and paint alongside some the of the UK's best art tutors? Each month there are projects and step-by-step demonstrations to try. Enjoy your month of painting.
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