A closer look at Ellen

The placement of the nair and alae nasi of the nose is critical. Look for three reference points: first, the tip of the alar is aligned with the far cheek. Always, always check the placement of the nose relative to the far cheek. Miss this critical point and you've lost your head! (No pun intended, of course.) Second, plumbing down from the tear duct you immediately see that the eye is fairly recessed from the outer edge of the alae nasi. Third, the intersection of the root of the nose and the far eye is aligned with the philtrum and the mental process. Forget about the mouth for now.

If you have blocked in the light/dark pattern reasonably accurately, the features should snap into place. Clickety, clack! Just like a jigsaw puzzle. If you have to force a piece into place, and/or smack it in there with the heel of your shoe, then something is amiss. Check all of your major proportions again. Very likely you're brow ridge is misplaced; if that is the case, then also, your nose is out of joint, and most definitely, your mouth is misplaced. It is a dominoe effect.

Building tone and form "is the most meditative and satisfying part of portrait drawing. As with all things, a solid foundation is mandatory. An exquisite rendering of details will not hide a poor architectural structure, instead all of the errors and miscues of proportion will be made more apparent.

Don't be too upset if you have to correct the arabesque, again! There is no shame in correcting. Edgar Degas' friends felt compelled to hide his painting whenever he visited to keep Edgar from reworking his drawings and paintings. William Turner had the same urge; not only to rework his paintings but also those paintings of other artists displayed nearby.

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