The Window to Emotions

A realistic painting of an eye

Eyes have always been one of my favourite subjects to paint. Doodles of the eye used to be all over my school notebooks. I believe eyes speak and emote far more than words. I’ve been practicing portraits, and now I am painting each facial feature separately to get an idea about the structure. Recently, I painted a realistic eye in inverted colours which you can see here along with its step-by-step tutorial.

I wanted this piece to be both detailed and loose. So I painted the eye ball with some line work to bring the viewer’s attention to it, while the rest of the skin was painted with loose strokes. I enjoy using loose brush strokes because they produce a painterly feeling and an atmosphere.

What does this eye really emote? I asked a few of my friends to guess the emotion. I was not able to label the emotion myself because I had been working closely with the subject. I got a wide range of answers. Some saw fear while others saw hope. And I think it's an eye that is open to interpretation. I don't know what it emotes, all I know is that it's a window to layers of emotions. 

The reference image did not really show the emotion that this painting shows. I didn’t choose an emotion to express, I simply trusted the process without giving much thought to the result. References are only used for colour and proportions, a painting should emote something. I do sense some fear in the image but I believe any emotion intensifies when it becomes a painting.

Some Art Tips:

  1. It is worth noting that the sclera (white part of the eye) is painted in shades of grey and pink. Sclera reflects a lot of colours, if you paint it flat white, it will not look realistic. Pure thick white paint should only be used for the highlights.

  2. It's an acrylic painting on MDF board. To prepare the surface for painting always coat it with one or two layers of gesso which is also called primer. This will make the surface waterproof and prevent the acrylics from soaking in.

Materials used: Emerald green, turquoise blue, black, titanium white, crimson red, burnt umber, orange, portrait pink, burnt sienna, MDF board, filbert brush, and round brush.

Happy Creating.

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