What Makes a Portrait Painting Great and Colorful

Portrait painting has had a long and colorful history but in the end, it has endured. With numerous awards granted to many a talented portrait painter, aspiring artists now have a chance to be part of the select few who have had the good fortune to be recognized for their work. Here are a few choice tips to help your portrait painting stand out and get a better chance at becoming one of the greats.

Create a certain flow
There were numerous masters who made great use of rhythm and this compelled the viewer to keep looking at their work.

Decide on a focal point
You may have more than one focal point and once you know what they will be, you will have to do a good job contrasting shadows and lights in those parts to make sure that they are truly focal points. Eyes are often the focal point of many portraits but you need not limit yourself to them. Remember not to overdo contrast and detail in areas that are not meant to be focal points.

Find something that will interest the viewer
The fact that it's a portrait does not excuse you from including something of interest that will catch the looker's eye. Portraits are, more often than not, focused on the head but don't cut it off at the neck, either. Add some hands or an accessory that has complementary colors. You may even add jewelry to the subject's hands to add more texture and color.

Keep an eye on proportions and perspective
Portraits typically follow a design called the pyramid. A good example would be the Portrait of Elizabeth Throckmorton by Nicolas de Largilliere, or the Mona Lisa. Depending on the angle of the painting, the weight must be appropriately distributed; otherwise, the portrait will end up a caricature more than anything else. Resist the urge to make drastic alterations and try to stay true to the subject's likeness.

Space is your friend
The more emphasis you want to put on a subject, the more space you should leave around them. This is especially applicable to smaller individuals, such as children. However, you must be careful to keep things interesting when it comes to colors because a lot of space requires a lot of attention. Along that note, if you are trying to make a subject seem large and dominant, leave just a little space above their head to make sure they take up most of the portrait's space.

While it may be difficult to find a tried and true recipe for amazing portraits, there have been lots of books written on the matter, as well as people who claim that they have found the secret. The bottom line is this: no matter how much you read and study, there will be no better teacher for you than experience. Keep practicing your art and you will eventually find your own brand of portrait painting that is both memorable and exceptional.

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