If you instruct upcoming young artists.

1. Most important concerning composition, I believe, is associated with the spacial area of the surface upon which the work is being done...presumably two dimensional. The focal point, or motif...the main subject...should always be "off center", and all other subjects leading to it. For example: if the subject is an animal, a person, a tree, or even a rock, do not place it at the center of the picture. Arrange surrounding elements so they are of lesser value, but enhance the main subject...the motif. Simple or not, I think that if this one compositional concept can be conveyed, it will help them become more focused on depicting a specific subject.

2. Most important concerning light, from my viewpoint, has to do with its source, and the resulting shadows. Beginners should always use light coming from a single source...that affects an object where only direct light and the gradients of light values associated with it are seen. Eggs may be good subjects, but too complex for the beginner. A cubical block of wood slightly angled from the light source may be better suited for the true "beginner." Right and left light sources from in front of or behind and somewhat above the object to be depicted will be a good starting place for practice. For more advanced students, I suggest they begin working with an object they always have with them: their hand...from wrist to fingertips.

3. The most important rule concerning color that any graphic art student can learn is that "warm colors advance and cool colors retard." The blue sky is a "cool" color, while a big bouquet of red roses is a warm color. Also, the stronger the color; the more forward (toward the artist) the color becomes. Observation will demonstrate that the further we are from any bright color; the less intense it becomes...the effects of atmosphere cause this. Which means that if a subject of bright color is the important motif, then all colors surrounding it, regardless of its specific color, must be less intense than that of the main object. Other concerns regarding color are how they relate to each other across the color wheel...complementary, monochromatic, etc. But that's for more advanced students.


A Treatise on Portraiture


Reference Photo

Rough Sketch

Finished Prismacolor Portrait


Decreasing The Age of A Subject

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Updated March 2010