Remember when you work around pastels, you could be allergic to the dust they create. In view of this, and the paint fumes, I would say go out and buy yourself a plastic mask which will cover your mouth and nose.

After all, you are likely to get a stuffy, blocked up nose, if you room has very little air. This is just a little bit of advice, but an important one. Be aware of your hands, pastels are messy, so give them a good wash when you take your breaks.

Portrait painting has been a primary form of the medium since pencil found paper. It has long been a custom of artists to capture there own likeness and place it on a canvas. This old and cherished tradition was largely driven by commissioned work which has given way to other mediums. Today portrait artist haslargely been replaced by photographers and camcorders. Commissioned portrait artists today will often be found sketching in the mall, or drawing pictures of suspects from a victim’s description. Yet portraits and self portraits are still a favorite topic among artists. Self portraits are a particular favorite, in part because the model is never late. Some great artists of the past would often insert their image into their paintings. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571-1610, was that kind of artist.

A classic Caravaggio can easily be recognized by the dramatic light. The illumination is filled with contrast, the composition bathed in bright and dark with no intermediate shades. It is an arresting display that grabs the viewer and directs the eye to the action. It is academically referred to as Tenebrism, the vivid contrast of light and dark. Caravaggio’s shadow’s hold little detail, creating a negative space that makes the subject explode off the canvas. His paintings are also noted for their emotional realism.

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