Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Calendar Portrait Studies

As promised here is another way to use those old calendars. They make great teaching aids for portrait studies. Often a student can get intimidated by trying to do a portrait, by giving them half the picture they learn placement by drawing/painting the mirror image. As they gain confidence you can go to a quarter page if you want. My kids love to do these studies. My youngest(6) does his in crayon and pencil crayon while my oldest(11) attempts them in watercolor.
Find a good image. This is from a local wildlife calendar the city sends out every year.
Fold and cut in half. Often the image is not centered on the page so try to find the center of the subject and make your fold there.
Glue on some paper with a glue stick. I did mine in watercolor as I was trying to get my daily practice in so I stuck mine on 140lb wc paper.
For my kids I usually use heavy sketch paper.
Do your sketch trying to get a mirror image. Hold on to the half you cut away for reference if needed. It's useful for determining shadow and highlight.
Add color by painting, using wc pencils, pastels, or even crayon.
Here is another example.
Give it a try. If you don't have an old calendar you can find lots of portraits on Google images.
We woke up to ice fog this morning. The trees were beautiful but we didn't get our blue sky today. Calgary is usually the sunniest place in Canada, (even though it's still cold).
see you next time


  1. I really love these last two projects!! Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  2. I love this idea. As someone lacking in drawing/painting skill, this seems like an approachable project to help develop an eye for creation.

  3. What fun. You are very talented.

  4. Hi Gail :) I am a visitor from the Crafty Crow. Thanks so much for this excellent idea!! Blessings, Q

  5. Thank you very much for the comments and the encouragement everyone.
    I really appreciate it!!!

  6. Another visitor from Crafty Crow and a closet "watercolorist". My art supplies have been gathering dust for some time. I think this is the year I touch that part of me again. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. This is such a great idea! I've been trying to find a way to show kids how to draw what they see. This should help a lot! :D

  8. Ginger, I'm sure it will all come back to you..I'm thrilled to inspire another painter.
    Marcia, glad I could help..another good exercise for drawing what you see is to turn the reference upside down. This always surprises the "non artists" in the class, all of a sudden they can draw and are pleased with their results.

  9. what a great way to use all of those calenders i've got did it again gail. such lovely things abound here at your "spot".

  10. we did it.......and the kids loved it!!! thanks so much. come and visit me if you want to see the results.

  11. What a great idea! I am definitely trying this with my kids. You ROCK!

  12. Hi Gail,

    Very interesting and informative site you have here, just got a question about portriats. Tis very seldom that images/faces for that matter,are symmetrical. Will sketching to get a mirror image affect the final result? I'm excited to give it a try but just got curious and would like to have an answer to my very amateur question from an artist's point of view, thanks for sharing your talent. nenet

  13. Nenet... you will get a symmetrical portrait which will only look slightly different than the original. Usually if you split a face in two, you will find one side is more pleasing than the other...this leads to a great art lesson having your students do 2 studies using both sides.
    Thanks for your terrific comments!