How to

How to paint noses

Understanding the Anatomy of a Nose

To capture a likeness of your subject, it’s crucial to focus on the shape and structure of the nose. By paying special attention to the angle, you can establish a foundation for the rest of the painting. Known as the Van Dyck Z, this technique involves connecting the eyebrows, nose, and nose base to create a cohesive and accurate portrayal.

Essential Materials for Nose Painting

To start your nose painting journey, gather the necessary materials. Begin with canvas tinted with a mixture of ivory black, yellow ochre, and turpentine. This will allow the white canvas to show through, preventing a chalky appearance. Choose an earth palette consisting of Old Holland titanium white, Chinese red (or Daler-Rowney Georgian cadmium red light), light red, Venetian red, and ivory black. For brushes, opt for hog hair round brushes and filberts for initial drawings, or sable filberts in various sizes, along with a round brush and a blending soft flat brush.

Building Layers: Mediums and Techniques

When it comes to mediums, use Michael Harding Oleo resin or linseed oil. Remember the rule of thumb: fat over lean. Start by using a paint like raw umber mixed with a little turpentine for the initial drawing. As you progress and add subsequent layers, incorporate more painting medium to achieve softer brushwork. Experiment with unloaded brushes to manipulate shapes and create subtle transitions between darks and lights. Consider using mediums to add transparency to your colors, resulting in smooth and realistic half tones.

Perfecting the Lighting and Positioning

For a successful portrait, align the sitter’s eyes with your eye level. If you’re working at an easel, elevate the model’s chair on a platform approximately 18 inches high. Pay attention to lighting as well. Painting a nose becomes easier when there is a shadow side present, particularly if the nose is turned towards the shadow rather than directly facing the light source.

Step-by-Step Demonstration

Stage 1: Establishing the Nose Angle

Stage 1

Begin by determining the angle of the nose. For a three-quarter turn, close one eye and align your brush parallel to the nose angle. Using slightly thinned brown paint, sketch the line of the nose’s angle. Prioritize capturing the direction and angle accurately before focusing on the details. Starting with the nose allows you to establish the scale and proportions of the entire portrait.

Stage 2: Examining Nose Wings

Stage 2

Identify the wings of the nose and compare their width to other facial features, such as the eyes. Mark the wings at first, and later refine them by painting the surrounding skin and capturing any shadows. On a three-quarter turn, the shadow side wing may be less visible, but there are still shadows and cast shadows to consider. Keep the edges of the cast shadows soft, using your finger or a soft brush. Utilize smaller filbert brushes and dark values to demarcate the nostrils.

Stage 3: Exploring Lighter Skin Tones

Stage 3

Now, focus on the lighter skin tones. Mix red, white, and yellow ochre in different ratios to achieve a range of hues. Modify the brightness with a touch of grey or one of the brown colors. Use a yellow ochre-based hue to describe the slope down to the bridge of the nose. Look for highlights on the tip and ridge of the nose to capture its form accurately. Placement of highlights can affect the perceived width of the nose, so observe carefully to achieve a true likeness.

Stage 4: Mastering Shadows and Highlights

Stage 4

Pay attention to the darker halftone where the shadow side of the nose ridge meets. Next, apply a lighter value to the top plane of the nose, creating depth and dimension. Soften or blend the bridge with the shadow side of the nose to enhance the three-dimensional effect. The choice between sharp or soft edges depends on the desired outcome of the painting.

Additional Tips for Different Angles and Skin Tones

To paint a nose facing into the light, follow the same process, noting that the bridge of the nose may carry a similar value and hue to the face. Adjust the color palette accordingly, using pink-based shades for the ridge and warm colors for the top side of the bulb. When painting a nose in a profile view, focus on achieving an accurate outline shape.

Bringing Your Art to Life

Remember, as you work from life, it’s natural for your model to shift position. To maintain control, frequently check and guide your sitter to ensure the nose angle matches your canvas. The nose serves as both a defining characteristic and a crucial reference point.

Expand Your Artistic Skills

Want to enhance your artistic abilities further? Explore other demonstrations from Kathy:

Remember, practice and experimentation are key to honing your skills as a master portrait artist.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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