Oil Portrait Painting Demo — “Deandrea’s Do”
By Lenin Delsol
The portrait is one of my favorite subjects to paint. I find that if I’m fortunate enough to meet and talk with the person I’m about to paint, it helps establish a connection with the sitter. However, not establishing a connection frees me to do whatever I’d like regarding the execution of the portrait. In this case, I know my model Deandrea quite well, having painted her many times.
“First I decide where I want to place my subject on the canvas, and draw a simplified shape to start, with attention paid to proportion and placement. I use a bright color that will be easily integrated into the other colors that are to follow.”
My palette for this painting is Titanium White, Naples Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Cad Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Perylene Red, Permanent Rose, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Kings Blue, and Ivory Black.
1. I begin a portrait painting with a good look at my subject. I look for color with my eyes open but squint them to look for shadow patterns. I do this whether I paint from references or in person.
2. I sketch in the drawing for my portrait.
3. Next comes the middle-value background. I can adjust it however I’d like as I proceed. The background’s job is to support the subject.
4. My application of color is loose and mixed on canvas. The colors applied as I go, the idea being to work from the general to the specific, using relatively large brushes for the subject in order to stay away from unnecessary details too soon in my process.
5. As I paint, I constantly compare value and color temperature. I’m also painting more carefully now than before, placing my colors to add form to my drawing.
6. Once I have the color that I want in the middle values not hindered by any of the lines that I placed earlier for my drawing, I next have to redefine the likeness that I had in the beginning. At this moment I mainly have middle light value, middle value, and middle dark value making up the bulk of the portrait.
7. I continue to build the likeness. I spot in some deeper darks to help re-establish the likeness. This is enough to help me proceed with a little more confidence. The expression is what I mainly wanted to get in this painting, as well as the likeness of the sitter.
8. I have small adjustments to make to the features. I spend more time now comparing the shape and value relationships between features and the outer contours of the face.
9. More work on the hair, and I rethink the neck and shoulders. I also add the beads, which are an integral part of the “do.”
10. I’ve taken this as for as I care to in the time I’ve allotted. I muted the values and color of the beads so as not to take away from the face and hair, and also adjusted the values of the background to help highlight the face and expression.