This month’s featured artwork is Portrait of Son by Peter Rubens. I love this drawing. I plan to do a similar one of my daughter, Elora (I need to hurry up as she is growing fast).
Brief Details About the Painting:
- Chalk on paper.
- 25 x 20 cm (9.8 in x 7.8 inches).
- Completed c.1619.
- Location: Unknown.
Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.
Click here to see my thoughts.
- Rubens did a masterful job capturing the child’s youth and features.
- Subtle contour lines reiterate the major forms (look at the child’s cheek). Rubins also used contour lines for shading. The denser the overlapping contour lines, the darker the shadow.
- Notice the use of curves and the lack of straight lines. Curves inject life and fluidity into the subject.
- The tan-colored pencil softens the drawing and plays well into the idea of skin tones.
- The highlights are soft and only a touch lighter than the surrounding mid-tones.
- Within the shadows, some areas are lighter than others. The lightest parts are the reflected lights. The darkest parts are the core and cast shadows. It always pays to understand the basics of light and shadow. So much of drawing and painting comes down to being able to render the effects of light and shadow on simple forms. In this case, think of the cheek as a sphere with light coming down from the top left. See this post for more details on the basics of light and shadow.
- There is a dark accent around the child’s neck. This provides a point of contrast for the rest of the drawing. It makes all the other colors appear light by comparison.
- The drawing tapers off towards the bottom. It does not come to an abrupt end. This is an appealing way to finish studies and sketches.