Monthly Tip

An "Upside-Down" Tip for Portraiture Drawing and Painting by Sharon Shurkin
Portraiture drawing and painting is an ageless form of art. For some, this project comes naturally with very little difficulty. However, for the rest of us, we may hit the nail on the head with the basic structure; yet completely miss the realness of the portrait when creating the features. Aggravating as this may be, there is hope!
If drawing or painting from a photo, you may simply need to look at it from a different perspective to force yourself to really notice the shape and design of the features. Try the following tips the next time you find yourself in a bit of a rut:
As previously mentioned, looking at the photo differently will draw more of your attention to the features. First, grab a separate piece of drawing paper and a sketch pencil. You are going to completely ignore the color for now and solely focus on the depth and shape of the facial features.
Park yourself comfortably at a table and make sure you have a suitable light source that does not shine directly on to the photo, rather from an angle on either side. This will help highlight those features and the areas you need to focus on that will bring your portrait to life. Once you are comfortably situated, you are going to take that photo you are drawing from and turn it upside down. This may seem odd to you; however, you will be surprised how much of a difference turning the photo upside-down will make!
Before you start drawing, take a minute to really examine the features and their placement. What shape are the eyes; are they oval, square? Are they uniform in shape, or does each of the eyes have their own "personality?" Focus on the shape of the face; is it oval, square, triangular, etc? Pay attention to the tilt of the head. Take your sketch pencil and measure the features and their relation to the placement of other feathers. If you are looking at a portrait straight on, with no tilt, generally a good rule of thumb is that the length of an eye is equal to the gap between the two eyes and also the distance from the outer corner of the eye to the edge of the face.
Now that you have studied the structure of the face, the placement of the features and the relation of other features, begin by lightly sketching the general structure of the face. After you have the basic outline of the face, lightly sketch the fundamental form of the features in their specific placement. Once you have done these two steps, sit back a moment and consider what you have accomplished. Being that the eyes are the main focus of anyone's face, this is the area you will work on first. You will sketch in the details, including the shading. Work your way out from the eyes once you have finished them. Move on to either the eyebrows or the nose and continue moving out until you have finished.
When you have made your final touches, turn both the photo and your portrait right side up. How does it look? Some of you may find that you did better; others may find that it looks "OK." The point of this exercise is it to take a moment and look at the project from a different point of view. You will have gotten in more practice and you will have a better grasp of the face. When you feel you are more comfortable, have another try at the final portrait. You may find that you have a sort of "writers block" when drawing or painting, simply take a break and step away from the project all together. Go somewhere that you will be unable to easily see the portrait and concentrate on another task for a few minutes. If you try to continue working, you will get more frustrated and will more than likely make hasty additions that will ultimately make the frustrations worse. Have fun with the project and do not make yourself stressed over it. Take your time and enjoy your project.
As previously mentioned, it is a great idea to keep in mind that you need a suitable light source when you are painting or drawing. It can make an immense difference, especially when you are working on a portrait. When your subject is not properly illuminated, you will more than likely miss important details that will make the world of difference in your project.

Try out this tip for your portraits and keep in mind that you need a light source that will do your artwork justice. 

FREE:  This Newsletter is a free service. Selected announcements for individual artists and non-profit organizations are also free.
If you wish to share a painting or marketing tip, Watermen Art will publish the tip, at least one of your images, and a link to your website if it is selected.
Click to send us an email containing a tip or announcement.
What's Happening in the Art Leagues and Societies...
See what events are going on in Art Leagues and Societies for this month. If you don't see your Art League or Society below, be sure to email us and we'll do our best to get your event in next month. For more information on the following events, just click on the links:
The American Watercolor Society  is having the 142nd Annual Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society opens on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, in the galleries of the historic Salmagundi Club at 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.   The exhibition is free and open to the public.  Gallery hours are Tuesdays 1-8 PM, Wednesday through Sunday 1-5 PM; closed Mondays.  
 The AWS annual is one of the premiere watercolor exhibits in the world.  Over 1200 artists from throughout the United States and 12 foreign countries submitted their work to a panel of jurors chosen from signature members of the AWS.  Of these submissions (one per artist), 102 paintings were selected for the exhibition.  Forty paintings from the show are selected for the Traveling Exhibition, which will tour museums and galleries across the country during the next year.  For the schedule of the Traveling Exhibition, and to see images of the prize-winning entries, visit  
     While inclusion in this exhibition is itself an honor, participants also compete for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals of Honor, eleven other medals, and over $40,000.00 in prize money.  
 The American Watercolor Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious exhibition societies in the US.  Election to the Society as a signature member is one of the most sought-after honors in the painting world.  Membership has included many of the greatest names in painting throughout the history of the Society, including American Impressionist Childe Hassam,  the well-known regionalist Dong Kingman, and the late great Andrew Wyeth.  
 The Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street, is located in the Chelsea/Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.  If you drive, it is recommended you plan to park in one of the off-street parking garages on 12th Street, between Fifth Avenue and University Place, just around the corner from the Salmagundi Club.

The Northwest Watercolor Society is having their 69th Annual Open Exhibition April 13th - May 15.  Over $10,000 in cash and merchandise awards are anticipated for this exhibition. The entry deadling is February 2nd.
Save 25%
For a limited time, save 25% on all orders at Simply enter code SPECIAL09 in your shopping cart to receive your discount
Issue: 5
Mahl Bridge and Clamps
Artist of the Month

Sharon Shurkin
Lakewood, NJ
 Sharon is a much sought after fine artist here in Lakewood, NJ. She studied fine arts at the Parsons School of Design in NYC and Monmouth University, where she received her degree and the prestigious "Student of the Year" award. She has been the head of the art department in a local high school as well as having taught courses herself in Basic Drawing, Basic Drawing II, Advanced Drawing, 2-dimensional Design, Cross-hatching, Calligraphy, Beginners Painting, Acrylic Painting, Watercolors, Oil Painting, Portraiture, Collage & Art History.
Sharon works herself mainly in oils on large canvas, with a touch of impressionism, being her own personal favorite.
Sharon is a co-owner of, a well known on-line Art Supply & Easel Store. She can be reached through her website:
Product(s) Sharon uses:
Join Our Mailing List

Watermen Art, Inc.