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View Full Version : Never draw a portrait larger than the size of your hand



tashirosgt
2010-Aug-14, 06:59 PM
I've been watching an number of art instruction DVDs. On the DVD "Pastel Portrait", artist Anita Wolff says not draw the face in a portrait larger than the size of your open hand. This is in the context of drawing a portrait that is sitting on an easel and within your reach ( not like the "sight size" procedure where you place the easel by the subject and walk back and forth to it). On a number of other DVDs about portraits, artist's don't mention this rule but they obey it.

I suppose that when a drawing gets too big, you can't properly judge the proportions unless you stand back from it. So it would make sense to limit the size of the work if you intend to do most of your labor while it is within arm's reach. A larger portrait could be done by making a drawing to a convenient size and then scaling it up using a projector or grid. However, I'd never heard Anita's rule. Is it a well known rule of thumb?

chrissy
2010-Aug-15, 08:30 PM
I couldn't tell you what the rule of thumb is, this picture I made many years ago was done on A3 paper, I think it might be a case of if you are confident enough in drawing something larger than your palm do it, if not, then just make it small enough for you and others to recognise who you are drawing.

Sorry it is a bit blurry because I scanned it and light got into the scanner. :(

tlbs101
2010-Aug-16, 03:22 PM
This is interesting. I paint landscapes; oil on canvas, but I wanted to paint a particular landscape of a photo with my sister- and brother-in-law in the photo. Thus, I attempted a portrait. This painting remains unfinished because I am too 'chicken' (afraid) to keep going. I have sketched their faces and bodies onto the canvas quite accurately, but filling in the colors and details remains to be finished (at least I started on some hair).

Point of this thread: It was not planned this way but their faces do, indeed, fit in palm of my hand. The overall painting size is 20" wide by 28" high.
I had neve heard of this "rule" but it makes sense.

I may switch over to acrylics to finish SIL and BIL, someday.

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-17, 04:47 AM
Unless you want to get surreal... Get big and bold and then your depiction only has to have a passing familiarity with reality.

tlbs101
2010-Aug-17, 03:04 PM
Unless you want to get surreal... Get big and bold and then your depiction only has to have a passing familiarity with reality.

Brother- and sister-in-law are big art collectors (their summer and winter homes are like small art galleries). If I do it properly, as you suggest, they might like it just for the art value and not the portrait value. Thank you for the suggestion.

When I finish it, I'll post it here or in the "post your art" thread. But it will probably be into 2012, after I finish my master's program in which I am currently enrolled.

BigDon
2010-Aug-17, 03:06 PM
(I'm sorry, I resisted for as long as I could.)

And never eat anything bigger than your head!

tlbs101
2010-Aug-17, 11:11 PM
(I'm sorry, I resisted for as long as I could.)

And never eat anything bigger than your head!

Good advice. :D