PAINTING FIGURES

Placing figures in a painting often adds life and interest that can make the
difference between an ordinary painting and a good one. The subject of a
painting can change with the inclusion of figures. Emphasis shifts from the
surroundings to the activity in which the figures are involved.

In the examples below the figures change the subject of the painting from
what would be fairly bland empty paintings of buildings to, in the first
example, people walking up to the front door and in the second one people
relaxing having coffee by the water.The subject becomes more personal
and easier to identify with.

        

The figures in these examples are very simple and understated.They are
suggested rather than carefully rendered. It is important to keep the heads
small and not to fiddle too much. The beauty of these figures lies in their
simplicity and spontaneity.

 

First some coloured shapes are put in to suggest the bodies - dont worry
too much about accuracy or keeping the shapes separate. In this example
the shapes have bled into one another. This adds character and makes the
group more interesting. The main thing to remember is to vary the size
colour and spacing.

Heads and legs were added with a light mix of Alizarin and Raw Sienna.
Dragging a damp brush through the bottom of the legs softens where
they meet the ground helping to anchor the figures. With a darker grey,
shadows were put on some of the legs and dark marks were added to
indicate hair. To increase detail a little, an arm was added to the figure on
the left and a skirt to the figure on the right.

Distant figures can be treated in a similar way but with cooler more subdued
colours.

JOHN LOVETT 1997

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