Wednesday, March 15, 2017

5 Quick Tips for Portrait Artists from Mario Robinson

Tips for portrait artists at

These quick tips from Mario Robinson are key components to drawing realistic portraits:

1. Know your models. Painting friends and family members can save you money and time. Plus, your intimacy and familiarity with your subjects will shine through in your work.

2. Limit your social networking and marketing to set periods of time. Waiting for someone to comment on the latest painting you posted online is like watching water boil. It won’t help your artwork.

3. It’s all about momentum. There’s no silver bullet for launching a successful career, but no matter what, you have to keep working. It may happen for you 10 years from now or it may happen tomorrow.

4. Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you can shop certain aspects of your career out, such as the framing of your work, do it to save yourself more time for painting.

5. Set yourself apart. It’s a very competitive field and a retail-based market. Lock into your mission and passion and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

The subject of Ella (shown above; watercolor on paper, 14×20) is an artist who paints florals. “As a child, I was fascinated by her colorful paintings,” says Mario. “She’s in her 90s and is still active in the local arts community.”

Capturing Expression in Portraits

In addition to the vital drawing techniques outlined above, beginners and advanced artists alike must know how to tell the story behind the face when drawing a lifelike portrait.

“Whether it’s a young child or an older person, there is a wealth of information that can be explored in every face,” explains Mario.

In the time-lapse video below, watch as Mario completes a portrait from start to finish. (NOTE: holding the pencil toward the back as he does, allows Mario to use expressive crosshatching and other mark-making techniques that are more difficult to achieve when tightening up your grip near the pencil’s point).

Then, head on over to to stream this incredible demonstration, Portrait Drawing: Capturing Expression, to master his techniques.

Learn Mario’s masterful techniques demonstrated in his instructional videos and companion guides, which explore portraiture in a variety of mediums including graphite, oil, watercolor, and pastel.

About the Artist

Born in Altus, Oklahoma, Mario A. Robinson’s artistic gift was discovered by a fifth-grade teacher who sparked a creative fire within young Mario that led him to study at the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. His artwork has a timeless and universal quality, while also exhibiting a turn-of-the-century aesthetic. A brand ambassador for Winsor & Newton and a member of several art societies, including Signature status in the Pastel Society of America, you can find Mario’s art featured in numerous publications, such as The Artist’s Magazine, The Pastel Journal, and Watercolor Artist. You can find more information about Mario and his artwork by visiting his website,

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