With the success of Pastimes for a Lifetime’s June 2016 Portrait Demo + Workshop by Ignat Ignatov, we inquired if he would consider providing a second workshop at the studio. Lucky for us, he agreed!

Ignat chose this time to focus on how to paint a realistic eye in oils or acrylics.

The workshop was held at Pastimes for a Lifetime on Sunday, September 11, 2016 from 10am – 2pm. Attendance was fully booked with a waiting list. Ignat began with a demo.

Ignat Ignatov Eye Painting Workshop

After guests settled in, Ignat reminded us to be aware of how the light source moves across a sphere or ball. Since eyes are orbs, he reviewed the definitions of the Core Shadow, Cast Shadow, Highlights, Half-Tones and Reflected Light on a round object.

Shadows Defined by Ignat Ignatov

He pointed out that the relaxed eye has eyelids that overlap the iris and pupil. This avoids the problem of painting a surprised or scared looking eye.

Ignat Igantov's Relaxed Eye Example

Ignat paints eyes as if he were sculpting them, not drawing them. When painting from a photograph, the highlights are studied to determine the location and temperature of the light source. He blocked in the eye socket with Yellow Ochre, leaving details for later.

Ignat Ignatov Blocks in the Eye Socket

Dark tones of the eye lashes and the portion of the eyebrow that begins in the eye socket, were added using a mix of Ivory Black and Alizarin Crimson. Black by itself can look flat. Adding Alizarin Crimson gives the black a richer hue. He remarked that eyelashes were like an umbrella, casting shadows on the eye. It was pointed out that the eyebrow, as it goes up from the eye socket, moves into the forehead area. That means the eyebrow is not painted as one dark line. Instead, it changes tones in the areas that receive more light.

Ignat Ignatov adds dark tones to the eye

Skin tone was mixed and applied to cover up the white canvas, including the white portions of the eyes. Using the Zørn palette, he mixed Titanium White, Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Red. Brown for the medium dark areas was mixed from Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red and Ivory Black.

Ignat Ignatov adds skin tone

Ignat’s tip for painting green or blue eyes: do not use green or blue paint! Simply mix Titanium White and Ivory Black to create a cool gray. When placed next to the warm skin tone, the cool gray looks blue. Add Yellow Ochre to the mix for a green eye.

Ignat Ignatov uses cool gray for a blue eye

Since the tear duct is the warmest area on an eye, a pink mixed from Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre was boldly applied and then softened with skin tone. The upper hemisphere of the iris was darkened by mixing a little brown in the shadow area.

Ignat Ignatov paints the tear duct pink

Once the skin tones and shadows of the eye were to Ignat’s satisfaction, placement of the highlight was next. For a wet looking eye where all edges are kept soft, the highlight should have hard edges. He applied a white tinted with blue, with a palette knife.

Ignat Ignatov applies the highlight to the eye

Final blending of tones was completed with a palette knife. Additional reflective lights were added with a brush for the final touches.

Ignat Ignatov blends tones with a palette knifeIgnat Ignatov adds the final touches to the eye painting

The final painting was breathtaking.

Ignat Ignatov's Eye Painting Demo

After a short break, guests selected an eye image from a selection provided by Ignat, and got to work. Ignat made his rounds, graciously providing well-received assistance.

Ignat Ignatov teaching the WorkshopIgnat Ignatov teaching the workshop

At the end, guests were asking when Ignat’s next workshop will be. He hinted at October 2016. Stay tuned!

Special thanks to office manager, Jessica Lee Sanders for her excellent admin and social media help with this wonderful event.

To learn more about Ignat Ignatov, visit his website and Facebook page.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please feel free to share it with others.
Were you inspired? Please share your inspiration in the comment section below. Thank you!

For more on Pastimes for a Lifetime and founder/instructor Linda Wehrli, visit the website or Facebook page.
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