Realism Art Guide: Portrait, Figure, and Still Life Paintings

Accelerate your realism art by studying from the finest artists in the world who are creating portraits, figurative art, and still life paintings. Realism Today is the FREE weekly publication for the realism movement — sign up here.

Realism Art Today

Realism Portrait Painting

  1. The Underlying Structure of Painting Figurative Art

On painting figurative art > The skill of good observation, the ability to convey the three-dimensionality of form convincingly, and the cultivation of edge, color and value sensitivity—all stem from an understanding of the nature of the underlying structure.

2. How to Create a Vibrant Posthumous Portrait

Consider these points when someone wants you to paint a loved one who has passed, and learn how to make the most of your resources.

3. What I Learned by Painting 30 Portraits of Refugees

“Knowing the person you paint changes the way you paint them.” Watercolor artist Karisa Keasey explains how she adjusts composition, color, foreground, and background to go beyond stereotypes and show a more complete picture of one’s story.

4. It’s Personal: Portrait Paintings by Nanette Fluhr

Nanette Fluhr’s portrait paintings have a personal touch that transcends the artist/model relationship, inviting the viewer to feel a similar sense of connection within her works. In this Q&A with Daniel Maidman, she explains how.

5. My Quarantine Self-Portrait Painting

Inspired by 19th century art, this artist loves to create representational paintings that include traditional symbols.

6. On Portrait Painting and Collaboration

How painting only for other painters you admire forces you to be more adventurous and ambitious than you may otherwise have been when working for a client or developing a series for a gallery.

Realism Art: Figure Painting

1. The Pursuit of Light | Paint Figurative Art Like the Masters

Daniel Gerhartz shares figurative art that illustrates how to assess your subject in order to most accurately relay the correct values and edges.

2. Painting the Male Figure: The Softer Side

The figurative work of Alessandro Tomassetti is about what it means to be male. The Canadian-born Italian artist does not pull any punches in presenting the rarely exposed sides of masculinity: vulnerability, sensitivity, and intimacy. These softer characteristics conventionally associated with the female form are juxtaposed against the physical appearance of his sitters, who often appear quintessentially masculine: strong, strapping, self-assured.

3. Freedom in Seven Tones: Contemporary Figure Paintings

On contemporary figure paintings inspired by the “glue” of the universe.

4. This is Not a Nude: Figurative Art by Rose Frantzen

Today we’re proud to shine a spotlight on the figurative works of contemporary artist Rose Frantzen, including her trompe l’oeil paintings.

5. Figurative Art: Pigments, Pixels, Process

On figurative art: “Drawn from lived experiences, the work I make records moments as a diary but also points as a metaphor for larger issues,” says Charis J. Carmichael Braun.

Realism Art: Still Life Painting

1. Still Life Realism: Getting Lost in the Process

Laurin McCracken is a realist watercolorist whose work is largely influenced by the Dutch and Flemish still life painters of the 16th and 17th centuries. In this guest blog post, he takes us into his process for painting: “It is like a very good novel; you want it to go on forever.”

2. Magnolia Still Life: A Realistic Watercolor Step-by-Step

See how a painting that includes leaves, crystal, and some unexpected challenges comes to fruition, step by step.

3. Flowers and Faces: Photorealistic Still Life Portraits

Inspired by the women in her life, Narelle Zeller is creating a series titled “In Bloom,” which is also a collaboration with a talented florist who creates custom pieces for the portrait paintings. Discover Zeller’s process in this exclusive article.

4. Eric Wert: Inspired by Dutch Still Life

Go behind the scenes of how Eric Wert creates masterful Dutch-inspired still life paintings of subjects that are common, yet “unknowable.”

5. Bringing a Deeper Meaning to Still Life Art

“Finding a clever connection between objects and observations can be exciting but it’s important to avoid the pitfall of letting the message overwhelm the mechanics.” Katharine Krieg explains why the constant underlying job of any painter is to make a structurally sound painting with building blocks like balance, value, and good drawing.

6. Still Life Painting: The Path from Ephemeral to Visual

Contemporary artist Terry Norris takes us through the concepts that inspire her traditional still life paintings, and the quickest and most effective way she has found to develop one’s own vision and practical painting knowledge.

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