Style & technique
I am what many call a traditionalist, meaning my work is primarily realistically based. While this is true, I do appreciate other styles of art. However, I have found that when it comes to portraiture this style is what works best. I of course do utilize artistic freedoms in my work, but they must be done with balance in order to accent and improve on the portrait rather than overpower it.
Let me describe a couple of my favorite portraiture techniques. Both of these techniques center around the term “vignette”, which artistically means an unbordered picture. When a photographer uses filters to make the image fade out toward the edges of a photograph, it is a crude generic imitation of a vignette.
In a pencil rendering I like to have the focal area done in an extremely realistic technique and then as the eye progresses out toward the background, have the realism gradually morph into a looser more impressionist or sketchier style towards the outside. This accomplishes three things . First, in painting and or drawing, the negative space is equally important as the positive space. This adds this element to the portraits composition. Secondly this adds additional visual interest and movement to the portrait. And third, It really, really looks GOOD!
The other portrait technique is primarily the same “vignette” technique adapted so that it capitalizes on the deep and vibrant colors available in pastels. Again the realism is more intense toward the focal area of the picture, but as it gradually morphs toward the outside visual areas of the composition, the realism slowly gives way to a more impressionistic use of color and texture. The pads and dashes of color dance and swim together rather than simply melt into a blur as in a mechanical photographic technique.
I cannot express how much more interesting a portrait is when these techniques are utilized. They develop an implicit effect rather than an explicit one. When balanced together with the explicit realistic technique for the detail, the finished visual effect will allow viewer will marvel at how realistic the finished product is. While at the same time marvel at how the colors and image develop and merge together in order to develop into the background. Implicit and explicit at the same time, the best of both worlds.