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The limited palette portrait

Ann Witheridge continues her series on portraits, progressing to painting in oils. She advises on a suitable palette, brushes and support, with a demonstration by Archie Wardlaw

PORTRAITURE: 4 TH OF 6

At London Fine Art studios we believe it is best to start with a limited palette when you move on to painting portraits in oils. It is essential to understand just how much these colours can do before relying on hundreds of colours to get to the same end. It is also simpler to remember how to mix colours if your options have been limited.

The finding of shape and form, of values and edges is what creates the image, but the handling of the paint and the manipulation of the colour is your calligraphy and what will most clearly define your style. I would say the shapes, form and values are the structure and scaffolding of the painting, the foundation. The brushwork and colour are the plasterwork and cornicing.

Brushes and support

Don’t scrimp on the quality of your brushes as they are the most important part of your painting kit. The quality, shape and the hairs used define your calligraphy and style. Look after your brushes well – I remove all the paint with an odourless turpentine substitute and then wash them in olive oil soap. To start with, use a filbert as you can lay down the paint well and the edges naturally soften with each other. I use Rosemary & Co brushes.

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About The Artist

Let this month's issue of The Artist inspire and guide your next steps in drawing and painting a range of figurative subject matter in all media. From realistic still lifes in acrylics, watercolour landscape challenges suggested by Amanda Hyatt, David Parfitt and Paul Talbot-Greaves, through to portraits in oils and mixed media, our fantastic team of practising artist-contributors aim to help you develop your knowledge and skills based on their own experiences as professional artists and tutors. Check out the list of contents for more details of all the great articles in this issue, and look out for our latest sketching competition to enter on page 66, plus win £500 worth of gift vouchers to spend on art materials with Great Art in our PaintersOnline competition on page 6. See also pages 12 to 13 for the latest news on the Patchings Art, Craft & Design Festival (July 12-15). We will be celebrating the opening of our annual The Artist open exhibition there on July 12. We look forward to meeting our successful selected artists and visitors to the festival.