Today’s featured artist is Ben Lustenhouwer, a talented portrait painter from Spain.
Whether drawing, oil painting, or working in watercolors, Ben accomplishes something in his art that many artists never quite achieve: a high level of realism without losing the artistry, the magic, inherent in his medium.
Take a look at the portrait below and of course you’ll see a person, the portrait’s subject. . but look closer and you’ll also see the hand of a master artist.
Notice the economy of brushstrokes (he used simple highlights to carve out the shape of the arm beneath the sleeve), the seemingly careless arrangement of the hair, and the blending of certain edges to create a feeling of movement and life—all of that adds something special to the subject, something that wasn’t there before.
Like John Singer Sargent, Ben still applies precision strokes where they’re needed—around the eyes, nose, and other defining features—but then he allows the rest of the painting to flow in a much more painterly fashion.
As much as I liked Ben’s paintings, I found his drawings to be fascinating as well. Note the wide scribbles and circles that he used to fill the space in this next portrait—essentially “painting” with a pencil.
You can see that Ben thinks like a painter even while drawing, by looking at shapes and masses instead of lines. In fact, there aren’t really any true lines visible in the above drawing—no individual strokes or hard outlines that might distract.
Squint just a little and the entire drawing begins to blend together as a single unit.
Ben’s watercolor works are, if anything, even more vibrant and full of life than his drawings or oil paintings.
I can’t get over those colors—the red-orange and pure white, the rich tones of brown and cream, all of it pushed into the foreground by blues, purples, and the faintest whisper of sage green.
It’s a wonderfully spontaneous portrait, and yet it’s just one of many on Ben’s website. To see more of his portrait paintings, please visit www.lustenhouwer.com.
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