Saturday, November 10, 2012

Demo at Don Valley Art Club

It's wonderful when you have the opportunity to meet other artists who share your joy for painting. Yesterday evening I was asked to give a demonstration at the Don Valley Art club in Toronto.

As I am a slow painter I didn't attempt to do a complete painting in the short time I had. Instead I focused on demonstrating certain techniques that I use when painting portraits of babies or young children.

 members of the Don Valley Art Club Watching my demo

My first focus was the eyes for as I have said many times before, they really are the key to a successful portrait.

For my Don Valley friends and my readers of this blog, here are a few important things to remember about eyes

  1. You can tell the age of the person even if you don’t see the rest of the face because our brain is extremely good at interpreting facial features. When we paint or draw eyes though we have to be consiously aware of some things that normally our brains just process automatically or we will end up aging the children and not understanding why.

2. A newborn’s eyes are 2/3 the size of adults and reach adult size by 6-12 years even though the face isn’t adult size. Therefore, they are larger in comparison to the face and to the eye socket than an adult. The inner corner of a baby’s eye is completely covered by a fold of skin that slowly retracts as the bridge of the nose develops.

Creating a realistic looking eye using my method of glazing taking many many layers so I demonstrated how to begin, by establishing the real darks around and in the corners of the eye and the first few layers of detail and washes on one of the eyes

and then moved onto the second eye to show how, with more layering you can begin to get a sense of depth in the iris and then demonstrated how to push the eye ball back into the socket with the help of shadowing. You can see in the photo below how the iris section and left part of the white of the eye is pushed back but the right side which I hadn't worked on at this point is still level with the skin.

We also talked about looking for the colours under the skin colour which help to shape and form the facial features. Its amazing the colours you can see if you train your eye to look for them.

In the photo below I still have a long way to go but you can begin to see how the glazes of perm rose, ultramarine blue, quin gold and burnt sienna  are creating that sense of depth and form. The eye itself at this stage still needs a little more value strengthening and the last layers of skin tones need to be added.

In the photo below you can see the effect that the increase in value creates, really pulling our attention to them. I used the same ref photo that I used in my demo to paint this. I merely tilted the eyes a little to give them a slightly more quizzical  look and added the puzzle pieces around them for some fun

Thank you to everyone there for making me feel so welcome.



  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Ona. I just love how you create such feeling in your portraiture. Wish I could have been there. maybe you will come to Seattle some day?


  2. Thank you for sharing! Love your work.