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What defines who you really are is not a profession or trade you are in but rather what books you have read.

Where was I? is a new book by John Haycraft, one of the best Australian watercolourists.

John is a Sydney-based architectural illustrator, watercolour artist, teacher and author.  

207 deliciously illustrated pages.

I don't remember when last time I was that excited about a book. Probably, in my far childhood when any decent book in the former USSR was a rare find not to mention to possess.

At our local library you were able to borrow only 3 books at a time for just 3 days.  I did just that - I was reading 3 books every 3 days and coming back on the 4th day. Once, a librarian  who did not believe I  had read all 3 books, asked me what they were about. So, I told her. I remember the contents of those books more or less even now.

Adventure books, fairytales, fantasy...  Some books I gulped down without noticing the author name. I managed to read books in school during  a lesson time and in between classes. The books I was fortunate to own had marks all over them, the marks of love and desire. They were battered and pencil-coloured. I still have them in my home library.

Illustrations by Leonid Vladimirsky 1959.

What I always look for and love in every book are the illustrations.  The less text, the more illustrations, the better and I don't mean comics.  I have never bought a badly illustrated book in my life.

We have brought our small  home library to Australia with us. Actually, the only things we brought to Australia were books and we have paid good money to do so. It's a cliché to say that we came here with only one single suitcase.  Not really.  I can say that our multiple suitcases were filled with books. Not literally, as we freight forwarded them by sea.

digital era...   it's not the same... the artist in me still prefers printed books...because of the  illustrations....

Art Books on

Other Media
Museums and Collections

Workshops   Workshops   Workshops

Human Portrait - Painting Tips - How to start painting a realistic portrait

1. Start with yourself. You are the best and the most patient model you can ever get. Draw your face from a mirror reflection. Start from a full face view first. Learn the proportions of your face, where your nose, eyes & mouth are, distance between them and their shapes. Draw eye, nose and mouth level lines first. Notice that the distance between your eyes is the width of your eye, so that one more eye can be placed in between. One more eye width can be drawn on either side of your eyes that give you the maximum width of your face of 5 eyes on the eye level line...

Then try drawing 3/4 view.  Notice the difference in proportions and a perspective.

Profile portrait: it's all about the shape of the outline and proportions. An ear is situated between an eye line and a mouth line, a bit lower than the nose tip and a bit higher than the edge of the eye. Check it out!

Spare time. Draw any faces with one nose,  two eyes and a mouth on a scrap of paper. Add more characters to an average face. Play with it. Draw a long nose and small eyes on a photo of a beauty queen and see what happens.

2. Draw portraits of people that you know. A family member if you have already drawn almost every variation of your self-portraits. Use reference photos in the beginning and then ask them to sit for you for a quick sketch for a half an hour. Be aware that a child is a very difficult subject to draw or paint in comparison to adults.

Spare time. Practice in your spare time on a scrap paper. Keep drawing simply faces, copy faces from newspapers and magazines, faces of celebrities, people's faces  in cafes, any faces from your memory, long and narrow faces, wide and fat faces, smiling faces, faces of pretty girls & women and handsome men, faces of old people with beautiful wrinkles. Try different hair styles.

3. Start painting from a photo.

Draw outlines and face features with a thinly diluted Burnt Sienna paint (traditional oils, water mixable oils, acrylics as oils).

Colours: Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium/Zinc White.

Basic mix #1: Burnt Sienna and Titanium/Zinc White for a basic mix. Mix #2: Add a bit of Cadmium Red to a basic mix for a reddish skin. Mix #3: Add Cadmium Yellow and a touch of Cadmium Red to a basic mix to get a yellow-pink mix for a sunny part of the face. Mix #4: Add some Ultramarine to the basic mix to get a shadow part of the face and men's cheeks. May add a little of Cadmium Red or Yellow to the mix to get variations of colours.

4. Go to a portrait workshop.  Check the difficulty level of the workshop first with organizers, i.e. life model or photo or copy of a tutor's painting. If you are confident enough then paint a portrait from a life model.

Workshops   Workshops   Workshops

Bird Portrait - Step-by-step