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Professor shares secrets of portrait painting

Drawing by Professor Z.L. Feng

Drawing titled 'Mr. White' by RU Professor Z.L. Feng

For more than 20 years, Professor Z.L. Feng has taught Radford University art students how to capture perfect portraits. Now he is sharing his techniques in the February 2013 edition of the national magazine Pastel Journal.

In the feature, Feng outlines his approach to portraiture and discusses the differences between drawing a live subject and working from a photograph.

"I enjoy the spontaneity of painting from life," Feng writes in the article. "When it isn’t possible to work with a live model, I will work with photographs. In these cases, knowledge of human anatomy is important for achieving a believable expression."

The magazine article provides step-by-step instructions on using pastels to draw a portrait, from the rough outline of a face to the detailed finished product.

Thanks to differences in skin tones, textures and lighting techniques, portraiture offers endless variety to the artist, Feng writes. "The complexities of the human figure will always present a challenge for the artist."

Feng, who received his M.F.A. from Radford in 1989, is a native of Shanghai, China. He currently teaches advanced portrait, figure and graduate-level life-drawing classes at RU. A signature member of the Pastel Society of America, he has participated in more than 300 national and international competitions and exhibitions. His work appears in numerous notable collections, including those of Walt Disney, the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri, Orlando International Airport in Florida and Radford University Art Museum.

Jan 29, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749
dwaidelich@radford.edu