Gerhardt Richter (in 1964-65) said “The photograph is the most perfect picture, it does not change; it is absolute, and therefor autonomous, unconditional, devoid of style. Both in its way of informing and in what it informs of, it is my source.”
An excellent image is key to your success in this workshop. Students will be painting a face. Cherry has hundreds of great photos of faces for students to choose from or you can bring your own.
Your own photo prints
You’ve found a wonderful photograph, it’s beautiful, interesting and clear and sharp. This photo is just the starting point to inspire your painting of a face.
The photo will be used to help you shift your existing perception of a face. The photo is already a perfect image. You want to try and let it tell you how to make your painting. In this way you can shift you way of thinking about the face.
If you let the photo tell you what to do you may not just keep on doing the same old thing that we have always done before.
You can scan and print it out in large form so that it’s easy to paint from. The face part of your photo should measure at least 250 mm high in your print.
Taking Your Own Photos
Please use a camera (please don’t use a phone or a tablet as it is wide angle) to take your photo. You need to be about 2 metres away from your subject with the subject’s head and shoulders filling the frame.
If you take your own photos of friends or family, try to not have teeth showing and try for a front on image. Don’t take them outside where bright light makes your subject squint or frown. Next to a window indoors is best, without direct sun shining on them.
Avoid light which shines up or reflects from below the face as this looks very unnatural in a painting. For example, you would have light under the eye brows instead of shadow and shadows on top of the cheeks under the eyes.
Avoid shooting up at the subject’s face. It is unattractive to be looking up someone’s nostrils in a painting which may last a life time. If they are taller than you ask them to sit on a chair.
NEVER use a wide angle lens! (use under 50mm) For this reason do not use a phone camera or photos taken with one zoom out (to about 80mm) and stand about 2 metres from your subject. A wide angle lens gives you an enlarge centre of the face – rounded moon face with very large nose and mouth. A wide angle lens also leaves the ears, hair and skull of your subject too small.
Your subjects face still needs to fill the frame of your camera. This way you will have a more naturalistic image.
Ideally experiment with focal lengths. You will see the difference on your digital display. Choose the photo you like of these experiments. Take lots of photos so you have lots to choose from. A slight tilt of the subject’s head one way or the other can change their look quite substantially.
Look at my faces on Google images, there are dozens of good examples. Notice they are predominantly front on, looking at you, chin slightly down, side lighting, no smile. This is what the workshop is all about so you image is key to your success.
In the workshop Cherry will demonstrate a simple technique of scaling to help students to enlarge their image onto the large paper.