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Vermeer Art Project: Draw the Girl with a Pearl Earring

Bring a Vermeer art project to your classroom with a tutorial for how to draw The Girl with a Pearl Earring, one of his most famous paintings.

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch artist known for his paintings of 17th-century daily life. Many of this most famous pieces were of ordinary women doing ordinary things, which was a radical idea back in those flamboyant Baroque times.

An observant and deliberate painter, Vermeer completed just 36 paintings in his life. What makes his Girl with a Pearl Earring so unique is her pose. She is not looking down, lost in a book or needlepoint. Instead, dressed in her colorful clothes against a dark and shallow space, she turns her head over her shoulder, meeting the viewer’s gaze with her eyes wide and lips parted as if about to speak. Her enigmatic expression coupled with the mystery of her identity has led some to compare her to the subject in Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

This tutorial will not only help students appreciate the pose of Vermeer’s iconic painting, it will provide some good practice in drawing a face with a 3/4 view. It’s halfway between a front view and profile, and a very common pose found in portrait work.

MATERIALS

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DIRECTIONS

Draw the Girl with the Pearl Earring

  1. Draw the head and neck on the side.

  2. Add the scarf that wraps the head.

  3. Erase the head line inside, add collar.

  4. Draw the shoulders and back.

  5. Add the rest of the scarf.

  6. Erase the lines, add fabric fold lines.

  7. Draw the nose and mouth.

  8. Add eyes, and earring. Erase lines.

  9. Trace with a marker and color.

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