- Raw Sienna
- Yellow Ochre
- Mars Violet
- Cadmium Red
- Cadmium Yellow Pale
- Cobalt Blue
- Titanium White
Faced with a white canvas I want to get the oil painting started quickly as I began blocking in the main darks using black and Raw Sienna with more Umber in the skin areas. I do a lot of squinting to block out details and get a feel of the largest and most important shapes. I use the black as little as possible until I have established most of the drawing as I want to place the darkest darks in this sitting.
The background was darks and so placing a dark tone around the oil sketch early gave me a better reflection of the tones in the portrait. I took a photo of the sitter at this stage while his expression was still animated.
Second Sitting – 20 minutes.
While the sitter was taking a break I covered the white areas of the canvas in the background and in the clothing. When we settled into the second sitting I started on the colours I the face establishing the lighter areas and back into the darkest darks. The first two sittings are probably always appear fast as the form comes to life but the next stage of the painting is more difficult as all the errors become apparent and from here in it is a matter of adjusting until every thing is in the right place.
Third Sitting – 20 minutes.
Using more colours I did lots of adjustments in the face, in particular, the nose and mouth area in this sitting. This time was spent getting more familiar with the sitter’s features. It takes quite a while to tune in and my sitter was getting tired.
Fourth Sitting – 20 minutes.
Adding more details and adjustments until my sitter expired.
Fifth Sitting – No model – Approx 4 Hours.
When I got the painting home and looked at my reference photo I could see so many things wrong with the painting. I began working on the painting and after a few hours ended up with a much better likeness and better skin colours but something was not right so I took a break to just sit a look.
I returned to my canvas that evening after realising I had placed the whole mouth and chin section too low. This is something I often misjudge. I tend to make the section between under the nose and the top of the lips too long and have to repaint it. I spent fifteen minutes blocking the correct shape over this area. It is tempting to leave things be when you have a likeness and have done all that work but I knew I could do better with a bit of patience and observation. I wanted to do more this night but I had lost good light and my painting area would have let me down as I don’t have a decent studio space at the moment so I waited for the morning.
I can’t remember exactly how long I spent on this stage of the painting, but it did take most of the day. I finally had the base to work on and the hours to tune into what I was seeing. This is where the best painting was done and I ended up with better, more realistic skin colour and likeness and I was happy not to paint the face any more.
I went back into the background with more paint and suggested the clothing a bit more. Iain had several layers of clothing on so it was a little hard to describe in the painting so I tried to paint enough without overstating them. I do prefer to leave this area of the painting sketchy as it leave a nice painterly look when your face is quite detailed.