Penny Dowie – Portrait Demonstration

PD demo flyer

It’s not an easy thing to do – draw a portrait under the gaze of twenty pairs of eyes, but Penny Dowie carried it off with great professionalism. The fascinated audience was privileged to observe the artist at work and to afterwards receive sincere and direct answers to a multitude of questions.

Thanks Penny for a wonderful occasion and very special treat for us all.

Everyone had a comment to make when asked “What have you learned from the demonstration?” Here are some examples.

Ellie: Preparations very interesting – realise the importance of getting the pose exactly right first time.

Joan: Interesting that Penny did not study the proportions, yet it all seemed to fall into place. Experience shows.

Glenys: Noticed the use of shadow in the composition as part of the process. Can use this in my work.

Kath: Fantastic likeness.

Carol: Worked downwards and developed the drawing progressively.

Julie: Loved the way relaxation set in, and with it focus and concentration. Enjoyable to see the pattern in the way Penny works.

Chris: Masterly, needlessly modest. Penny’s uncertainties are reassuring to a struggling portrait painter. Once started the insecurity dropped away.

Penny Dowie demo

Penny Dowie demo2


Portraiture is a specific genre/term that embraces a broad perspective of representation: from the formal, academic, realist style to the subjective and abstract.

And of course, it can include and embrace many subjects and tell so many stories, not just of the human face and form.

The portrayal of a person (or persons) through the mediums of drawing, painting and sculpture is always challenging, posing any number of problems and difficulties, as apart from achieving a good (or better than good!) likeness, or describing or capturing something of the character or personality (not always easy to read) or being a good drawing, painting or sculpture.

It is also hoped that the work has some other element that sets it apart from being “just a good likeness or a good drawing / painting / sculpture”, something that somehow expresses the SPIRIT of the person. I would be less concerned with technique and more with expression and an impression of the subject.

Often using “props” is a way of telling a story within a portrait and saying or alluding to something about the person one is portraying; perhaps adding some drama or theatre.

Technically, when drawing or painting a portrait, I am constantly (and not often consciously) measuring with my eye – proportions, distance between features, space and form, positive and negative. Perhaps even slightly exaggerating certain features to emphasise character in the face or figure I am portraying.

Ultimately it is your own interpretation and expression of how you “see” that person (real or imagined) and so there are, in that regard, no real rules!

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