Tuesday, 5 February 2013


I'm no expert when it comes to human portrait painting, so in preparation for my entry in the Duchess of Cambridge Challenge I have been studying eyes. 

When you look at a portrait, the most riveting part is the eyes. They say the eyes are "windows to the soul" but I'm not sure that is the important thing here. In my experience while visiting the wonderful galleries of Australia, Europe, South and North America, I've noticed that the best portraits have eyes that seem to follow you around the room. It sounds spooky but I find it a very pleasant feeling as if the portrait is including you in their world. How does this happen and why do only some paintings do this and not others?

This painting is SOLD. To request a print or a painting of your own pet please contact me. To view my Gallery  please visit Daily Paintworks.

 3.5" x 2.5"
This painting is SOLD. To request a larger version or another in the same series please contact me. To view my Gallery  please visit Daily Paintworks.  

So I set about learning how to paint eyes and also discover the secret to making eyes move. It turns out that trick of the roaming eyes is an impression created by the use of shadow, light and perspective. Artists who have a command of perspective, use the interplay of light and shadow to mold the features of a face and give the impression that the flat canvas has three dimensions. The appearance of depth is an optical illusion created by the Artist and it gives rise to other illusions -- including eyes that follow you.

What is happening is the light, shadow and perspective are fixed in two dimensions so they appear the same from any angle. There is no magical secret portrait artists formula, if your subject is looking directly at you and you paint them accurately using light and shadow, he or she will continue to look at you as you move around the room. Likewise, if a person is painted looking away from you slightly, even if you move yourself to the point where the person is looking they will bee looking somewhere else, not at you. I actually find this concept more spooky than the painting with eyes that move. How about you?

It's quite a challenge to find photos of the Duchess looking directly at the camera, but here are a few examples.

I welcome comments below. If you have a challenge posting use Anonymous but please add your name.

 Cat # 12040 and 13020