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Painting a portrait is possibly the most difficult thing an artist can attempt. To achieve a true likeness demands the utmost rigour and accuracy. We are all programmed to recognise faces, it is hardwired into our brains, but every little nuance of the features and expressions is important.


For the artist this means that even the smallest most insignificant of errors will make the whole thing look wrong. There will be no getting away with it. If it doesn't look right, people will notice... in fact it's the only thing they'll notice.

Painting a portrait from a live model is probably the best way to know what a person is really like, but painting can be a slow process. These days, who has either the time or the inclination to sit for hours or even days for a portrait?

Working from photographs is an effective alternative, particularly if one wishes to catch a movement, a gesture or a fleeting expression, but what if the artist is trying to portray a person they don't know and have never met? It's a mystery.


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"If it doesn't look right people will notice. In fact it's the only thing they'll notice!"
Andrew Wood


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