Painting What I See, Not What I Think Is There


Lilibeth André, Mandy, oil, 16x12

This is a two-sitting portrait painted live. Most of the portraits I post here are painted from live sittings. That is when the model is sitting in front of me and I paint what I see, not what I think is there. I don’t work without the model. It’s part of my ongoing training. I believe it trains the eye to ‘see’.

And what do I see? The main thing for me is the myriad of colors that are not there when painting from a photo. I see the tonalities that help model the features and give dimension to the subject. All of this is what gives me “brush mileage under my belt” for when I have to paint from sketches and photos because the model can’t be present. It helps me see where the stroke needs to go to bring about the likeness on the canvas.

Mandy detail

Lilibeth André, Mandy detail.

By training the eye I learn what to look for to really see what I have in front of me and not just go with what I “know” is there. I know there is a nose, a mouth, a shirt or hair. What I see is not just the anatomical parts of the composition but the effect of the light, the reflections off the apparel, the light and the shadow in strategic places that will tell anyone seeing the painting who the sitter is. It will tell the story of the experience as a whole.

The challenge with Mandy was capturing  her hair, not just the color but the depth and shine as well as the texture.

Sometimes while working on a painting I will see a certain characteristic in the model and represent it on the canvas. It is very rewarding to have someone approach my work and say they can see that particular characteristic. Especially when the comment is from a fellow artist. I can relish with them knowing that we know “I got them”. That was the case with Mandy. I felt I captured her characteristic features and left the studio with an accomplished feeling.



January Event – A fundraiser

St. Francis 2010

Lilibeth André at St. Francis Art Show 2010

I will join several of my artist friends at the St. Francis Art Show 2011. This is the 39th annual art show, a juried fundraiser, for St. Francis Episcopal Church. Come and enjoy wonderful art: paintings, sculpture and more. You may find something you can’t live without.

St. Francis is located at:

345 Piney Point Road
Houston, Texas 77024

The show dates and times are:

Saturday, January 29, 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Sunday, January 30, 11:0 am to 4 pm

Back to Basics

Kevin sketch

Lilibeth André, Kevin, graphite, 12x9

With the start of the new year I decided to get back to basics. So I grabbed my bright pink bag and rejoined my Thursday night studio group, not with my oils travel box but with sketch material in tow. I vowed to do more sketching each week this year.

With an excellent model I settled in a chair and began to sketch Kevin on my 12×9 sketch pad. I used a 6B pencil and played with the form.

We sat quietly enjoying the classical music in the background. The timer went off and one of our group fans walked in with some snacks.

“It’s so strange to see you sitting down!” she said.

Yes, I like to paint standing at the easel but today, I was sketching and made use of one of the studio chairs. It’s funny, sometimes we just do our thing and not realize what we’re doing. I guess I could also sketch standing up but sitting down I can also get closer to the model without blocking my fellow studio mates.

Kevin detail

Lilibeth André, Kevin, detail

A couple of the artists joked with the young model. We remind models they must wear the same outfit for all the sittings and not change their hair too much. Kevin confessed he’d gotten his hair cut and didn’t realize what he was doing until he heard the clipping. Then earlier in the evening dashed out of the house and went back to grab a tie. He just grabbed the pink one instead of the black one. So he was roasted for a few minutes but no real complaints from the peanut gallery. He is a very good model.

I have a detail view for you as well so you could get a closer look at the drawing. I finished the drawing with a HB pencil and called it a night.


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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.