Friday, July 04, 2008

Portrait Oil Painting Tutorial

As promised I am posting the portrait I started in Thrornton last weekend. I have documented the process for you also.

Below is the finished oil painting
First Sitting – 20 minutes.

Colours Used:
  • Black
  • Raw Sienna
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Mars Violet
  • Terra Rosa
  • 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.

Sixth Sitting – No model – Approx 15 minutes.
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.
Seventh Sitting – No model – Approx 8 Hours.
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.

Ninth Sitting – No model – Approx 40 minutes.Portrait of Iain
18x22 inches Oil Painting
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.
As requested the photo I used for finishing the portrait.


Lauren said...

wow, that looks great Kayleen! You are inspiring me to get back out in the studio.

Now for the big question... who is it?


Jean Levert Hood said...

this is great, Kayleen! I love seeing the process. Very impressive!

Kayleen West. said...

Thanks Jean.
I was looking at the painting this week and decided that one of the eyes needs a little work so I will do a bit more to this portrait after I finish the one of Timothy I posted today.

Dawn Maureen said...

Thankyou for showing the progression !

Melinda P said...

Do you also do any baby portraits, is there a way to communicate with you? Do you have a website? Mine is Melinda P

Web Design Quote said...

I really like this oil painting. I observe the whole procedure and read thoroughly that give me lots of detail information about the making of oil painting.

26Wheels said...

Well done,
Thanks for explaining the proces,
but could you please show the picture as well you used?

Kayleen West Art & Illustration said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kayleen West said...

Thank for all the comments. Somehow I missed some of them, Melinda, I have contacted you. Peter I will hunt out the photo and check with the sitter if he is ok with me publishing it. Thanks again everyone

Kayleen West said...

I have now posted the reference photo for the portrait tutorial.

Silvio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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