Portrait landmarks

Providence RI: I am teaching an 11 week roving watercolor sketch course on Thursday afternoons starting February 1.  Click here for more information and registration.

Below are portrait landmark notes made in my oil painting class.

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Portrait proportions after Sargent’s Lady Agnew of Lochnaw.  These are the landmarks I think of when drawing a human head.  Please note the measurements only hold true when looking directly at the subject at eye level.


I tend to think about the portrait landmarks in this order

  • Vertical center line
  • Top of hair
  • Top of head
  • hair / brow line
  • Eye Brow level
  • Eye level (I measure at the tear duct)
  • Bottom of nose
  • Tops and bottoms of ears
  • Line where the lips meet
  • Bottom of  the chin

Statehouse Christmas Tree Class demos and advice



Demos from watercolor class at the RI Statehouse yesterday.


A bit of advice for Christmas tree painting in watercolor:

Start with the bright decorations, this will help keep them light.  Tree afterward or around.  Addingdecorations on top of the painted tree will make them dark as you’ve already lost the light of the page.

Below is a christmas tree from my sketchbook. I’ve included it to show the above practice (start with the decorations and keep them light) and to point out that the warmth and light in this one comes as much from the overall dark values of the foliage and the background as from bright decorations.


Peruvian Retablo at peaceable kingdom

From a wonderful art class at Peaceable Kingdom on Ives St. in Providence.  Joan and her husband have a fabulous collection from around the globe.  It was hard to settle down and sketch one thing but I managed with this …are you ready? dog party retablo.  Can you believe it?  I think it might be my bravest sketch ever, small endeavor that it was.  I love my paint box, not because it allows me to capture what I am seeing but because it helps me enjoy it, and life, more.dp2646_1.jpeg

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we started with color swatches
Peruvian Retablo from Peaceable Kingdom

Sketching workshop at Bryant

Photos and demo sketches from a workshop at Bryant U for a Creativity and the Arts course taught by Joan Zaretti.  The students were fabulous! We went over guidelines for drawing from art. (Like the thumbnail sketching tutorial here.) We worked from university portraits but also tackled Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, as well as a Cezanne and a Monet from the RISD Museum collection.

I found the work of Suzanne Hodes in the Bryant art collection and had trouble pulling myself away.

Little sketchbook in the museum.

There’s a wonderful exhibit at the RISD Museum called Lines of Thought:Drawing from Michelangelo to Now.

One of my students is an art historian and she gave an inspiring lecture to accompany the show, some of these are from her talk.dp2630_1.jpegdp2630_2.jpeg

(My note “Michelangelo was there” refers to the fact that Sandy, our class art historian, told us that Michelangelo was present when the Laocoön was unearthed in Rome in 1506.