I have decided to add here at the end of my memoirs the advice that I wrote niece, Mme J. Tripier Le Franc, thinking that it might also be of interest to others.
POINTS THAT SHOULD BE OBSERVED BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO PAINT
You should always be ready half an hour before the model arrives. This helps to gather your thoughts and is essential for several reasons:
2 The palette must be prepared.
3 People or business should not interfere with your concentration.
You must sit your model down, but at a higher level then yourself. Make sure that the women are comfortable, that they have something to lean against, and a stool beneath their feet.
You should be as far away from your model as possible; this is the only way to catch the true proportion of the features and their correct alignment, as well as the sitter's bearing and particular mannerisms which it is essential to note; the same applies when trying to achieve an overall likeness. Do we not recognize people we know from behind, even when we cannot see their face?
When painting a man's portrait, especially that of a young man, he should stand up for a moment before you begin so that you can sketch the general outline of the body. If you were to sketch him sitting down, the body would not appear as elegant and the head would appear too close to the shoulders. This is particularly necessary for men since we are more used to seeing them standing than seated.
Do not paint the head too high on the canvas since it makes the model look too tall, though if you draw the head too low, the model will become too small; when drawing the body, take care to allow more space on the side to which the body is turned.
You should also have a mirror positioned behind you so that you can see both the model and your painting at the same time, and it should be in a place where you can refer to it all the time; it is the best guide and will show up faults clearly.
Before you begin, talk to your model. Try several different poses. Choose not only the most comfortable but also the most fitting for the person's age and character, so that the pose will only add to the likeness. Likewise for the head, which should either be facing forward or at a three-quarter turn; this adds to the resemblance, especially for the public; the mirror might also help you decide upon this point.
While you are working on the head of a woman dressed in white, drape her in a neutral-coloured fabric like grey or light green, so that your gaze does not wander from the model's head; if however you wish to paint her in white, keep a little white fabric to drape around the head, for it too should receive some of the reflected light.
The background to the sitter should in general be a subtle and uniform tone, neither too light nor too dark; if the background is sky then the rules are different and you should put something blue behind the head.
Whether you are painting in pastels or oils, you should build up from the darkest colour, then paint the mid-tones and finally the highlights.
Always thicken the highlights and always make them golden. Between the highlights and the mid-tones there is another tone not be overlooked, which has tints of violet, blue and green. Study van Dyck. The mid-tones should be broken up and less thick than the highlights, and the highlighting on the head should emphasise the bone and muscle, the latter being weaker than the former.
Immediately after the first layer comes the flesh tone, chosen according to the complexion of the sitter; this will eventually blend with the mingling, shifting mid-tones.
Observe the forehead well; it is vital for a true likeness and is a very important key to the personality. When the forehead has a square but prominent bone, such as in the self portraits of Raphael, Rubens or van Dyck, there is a definite concentration of light on these prominent areas. The first is at the top of the forehead, just beneath the hairline. It is then interrupted and reappears near the eyebrow. This in turn gives way to the colour of the temple where there will often be a blue vein visible, especially if the sitter's skin is very fine. In between these highlights is the natural flesh tone which fades into the centre. The light returns, if more feebly, on the same bone on the other side. This mid-tone mingles softly with all the other mid-tones, eventually becoming the shadow that defines the shape of the brow bone. After this shadow, there is a slightly golden reflection, depending upon the colour of the hair. Above the eyebrow, the tone should become a little warmer: the accumulation of these hairs has the same effect as a mass of curls falling onto a well lit forehead. The shadow is warm. Look at the heads of Greuze and study the way in which your model's hair grows,
The hair should be drawn in a body and should remain as such for the most part; it is probably better to use a glaze, otherwise the colours may bleed into the shadow and the main flesh tones of the face. The highlights on the hair are only visible on the prominent parts of the head; curls reflect light in the centre and a few stray hairs break the uniformity. The edge of the hair should, like metal, have something of the background colour, for this helps to accentuate the turn of the head.
It is also essential to study the ear and to place it in the correct position, understanding that it is a link between the head and the neck; you should make the shape as beautiful as you can; study the art of antiquity or beautiful examples in nature. For example, you might notice how in general the German, and especially the Austrian race, have ears that are situated a little too high according to perfect proportion. Likewise, the way the neck sits upon the shoulders is different from that of other peoples: it is
If you have to paint breasts, put the model in a position where they are well lit; the best conditions for painting breasts occur when the light is direct and the colour should grow gradually stronger towards the nipple; the mid-tones which curve around the breast should be as light and fresh as possible; the shadow between the breasts should be warm and transparent.
There are rules for the gradation of light, such as I have described for the head, for the rest of the body. If the figure is seated, the light focuses strongly upon the thighs and will gradually fade towards the heel.
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