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Luminous Realism in Contemporary Portraiture

Updated: Feb 14

Portrait painting has been a prominent feature of art history for centuries, and with the advent of digital technology, contemporary portrait painting has evolved to incorporate new techniques and styles. One of these styles is luminous realism, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. In this article, we will explore the concept of luminous realism in contemporary portraiture and its significance in the art world.

Luminous Realism in Contemporary Portraiture, Meg
Meg, oil painting by Marcus Callum

Luminous realism is a style of painting that emphasises the use of light and colour to create a sense of depth and dimensionality in the portrait. This style is characterised by the use of vibrant colours, high contrast, and an emphasis on the play of light and shadow. The goal of luminous realism is to create a sense of luminosity in the painting as if the subject is illuminated from within.

One of the most notable features of luminous realism is the use of glazing. Glazing is a technique where layers of transparent paint are applied to the surface of the painting, creating a luminous effect. This technique is used to build up layers of colour and depth, creating a sense of luminosity that is unique to this style.

Luminous realism has become increasingly popular in contemporary portraiture due to its ability to capture the essence of the subject in a unique and vibrant way. This style is particularly effective in capturing the personality and character of the subject, as the use of light and colour can convey a sense of emotion and energy.


Luminous Realism in Contemporary Portraiture, Oil Painting by artist Marcus Callum
All The Light We Cannot See (detail)

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