I always try to introduce different artist for students to learn about portraits. Recently we used the Dutch master Vermeer as our Inspiration. Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He seems never to have been particularly wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings. Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, using bright colours and sometimes expensive pigments, with a preference for cornflower blue and yellow. He is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work. We use his most famous painting “Girl with Pearl Earring” (1665-1666) for our project.
Materials: Heavyweight drawing paper 8″ x 10″ (this work is almost a square), sketching pencil, watercolor pencils or paint.
Step #1: Draw a light guideline across the middle and down the center of your paper. Draw a egg shape oval near the center with a slight tilt.
Step #2: Draw a light guideline for the eyes and nose, then draw her eyes (she is gazing over her shoulder), nose and lips as shown below. I use four lines to create a slightly open mouth.
Step #3: Draw her head wrap and ear with the pearl earring. Then draw her neck and her collar.
Step #4: Draw her front shoulder and her coat. Her back shoulder disappears into the dark background.
Step #5: Time to use your watercolor pencils or paint to bring her to life. Vermeer used a dark background to have the portrait almost come out of the canvas.