Lyme Regis Art Society members enjoy a lesson in portraiture

FOR members of Lyme Regis Art Society, being locked down does not mean locked out from experiencing art.

Once again, members enjoyed an absorbing and instructive afternoon demonstration last week, this time, learning the art of portraiture from the comfort of their own homes.

Trying to catch an exact image of someone is always tricky but Carole Massey showed members how careful observations and measurements can produce very successful results. 

Taking the position of different facial features, she plotted their relationships in a series of ratios, lines and angles as carefully and meticulously as an A-level geometry lesson.

She demonstrated the fascinating symmetries of the human face and that it is the tiny deviations from this symmetry that give each face its individuality.

Carole was working on the ‘Moonstone’ shade of Canson pastel paper with a set of skin-tone pastel pencils, knife-sharpened and honed with sandpaper.

Her portrait would be one and a half times the size of the reference photo and, using a Burnt Carmine brown, she first established the eyeline angle with a ruler before drawing it on the paper. 

As the portrait took shape, the distances between the eyes, from the eye corners to the nostrils and to the corner of the mouth, were all meticulously noted and used to build up an accurate placement of these features.

Carole kept to a monochromatic range of colour but added the first white areas straight onto the paper, as the white does not go well over colour.

Later highlights were added with soft pastel and a background colour added to throw the jawline into relief. Caran D’ache charcoal filled in the darkest shadow areas.

Members agreed it was fascinating to watch the engineering involved and the likeness and character of the face emerge from the page.

Carole has a book now in publication ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Drawing Portraits’, with step-by-step instructions.

Further information about the society can be found on the website

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