So How Do You Choose a Pose?

White Satin 10

Lilibeth André, White Satin 10, oil, 24x18

Several people have asked me how I choose a pose for a portrait. First I like to know what kind of portrait the sitter, or the person making the request, is interested in.

I like to get to know the sitter first. Typically, I like to meet with them, talk and spend some time in their environment. While this is happening I am building mental memory of the person, their personality, and what I percieve in their presence. To help this along, I may take multiple photos and maybe make quick sketches as memory cues that will help me remember all of these things later on. At the same time, I want to put them at ease so they can be themselves. This is particularly important when the sitter will not be sitting for the portrait each time.

Once we have established the size and theme, I will explore several poses and locations until I find the one I feel conveys what we are looking for.

White Satin detail

Lilibeth André, detail White Satin 10, oil

When painting a model in a group setting, I will search for an angle that speaks to me and find my place in the studio. Then I decide what I want to feature. Do I want to represent the face, face and shoulders or include more of the body?

In the piece White Satin, I wanted to include as much of the standing figure as reasonable. I chose the shadow side to build drama into the pose and play up the light on the dress and skin. I liked the pose and I felt my angle portrayed some attitude on the part of the model.

I liked the fresh feel of the portrait and was careful to not overwork it. The focul point is the light that comes across her right shoulder to her chest and barely touches her left arm.

The face has more detail to define the features while maintaining the face in shadow. Only the small amount of light that illuminates the right side of her face is what defines her character.

The result, I believe is a strong and dramatic pose with simplicity to deliver an elegant stance.

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