Painting Faces in Acrylic Paint

Painting faces. Two sweet cherubs, with small feathered wings, resting in rose pink and deep purple clouds,my study of Raphael's painting.
My Study of Raphael’s Cherubs

Good morning everyone. Well, I decided it was time to take the plunge and try painting faces! And I’m sure that lots of you will be familiar with this image taken from Raphael’s beautiful work. Because you do see it everywhere, on cards, tea towels, diaries and so on.

Raphael (1483- 1520) was an Italian painter and architect in the Renaissance period. In fact, he was very successful in his own lifetime. And he painted the little angels on this commissioned Madonna and child painting in 1512. As you can see, the clouds are not the same colour as in our Valentine’s Day version!

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Raphael's Sistine Madonna, a superb painting showing Mary and Jesus, two saints and the two adorable cherubs at the bottom of the picture.

As you can see, in this superb painting by Raphael, the scene shows us Mary, Jesus, two saints and the baby angels waiting and dreaming.

Anyway, I painted this study whilst following along with a free tutorial, hosted by Artclassesgroup. Actually, the tuition was very good and the tutor guided us through completing the angelic cherub on the left. You see, the session was only one hour long, so that, plus a bit of background was good going.Then I spent another hour and added the baby cherub on the right.

Half Finished Cherubs

The Three Stages of Painting Faces

Obviously, I was most interested in painting the faces, something I have tried to avoid in my painting practice. And that’s because it seems to me to be the most difficult subject of all. Fortunately, the tutor cleverly simplified it down and we were able to follow. To be honest, it had never occurred to me to treat the face like anything else I paint. So, firstly we mixed a reasonable flesh colour and covered the face in a mid tone. Then we darkened that colour mix and applied patches of colour for shadows. Lastly, (you’ve guessed it) we lightened the first mid tone and painted highlights, on the nose, forehead and so on.

Painting the Clouds

A close up of Raphael's cherubs - part of my painting faces project.
My study of Raphael’s cherubs

After all the careful brushstrokes of the faces, it was a real pleasure to let myself go and paint clouds! Not only were the colours so delicious, but also the subject really lent itself to expressive marks.And I enjoyed trying to create the fluffy texture of the wings too!

Painting faces- a close of my study of Raphael's baby angel.
A Cherub Resting on a Bed of Clouds

In all, I spent another hour to finish this and I would thoroughly recommend this exercise. Because there’s such a lot to be learnt from studying the work of great painters. And if you want to see how I painted my own version of a delightful abstract by Paul Klee see this post here.

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