Realistic Oil Portrait Painting Classes & Workshops • Portrait Techniques & Strategy

Leah: Class Demo from Life • Atlanta Jan. 2005 Portrait Painting Workshop

I break my painting process into three basic parts. On the first day I demonstrate the underpainting technique, called a wash-in. Although I wipe out the lights with a rag, I'm hesitant to refer to it as a wipe-out, for obvious reasons. This important first step establishes the composition, the value patterns, edges and lighting effect. On the second day of demonstrating (Step #4), I lay in the color and further develop the form. On the third day, I demonstrate how to begin to refinement of the more subtle aspects of form and color and how to unify the painting. You can see the remarkable difference between steps #10 and #11, where I've applied my initial scumble. I then paint into the wet scumble looking to refine the smaller aspects while maintaining the "big look."

I don't consider this demo to be a finished painting, by any means, but rather an illustration of the basic process I employ in constructiing a painting. My procees is about having a painting evolve organically and not about being constricted by coloring in a tight drawing. I'm constantly adjusting the drawing, the color, the values, the transitions and the edges. During a one week workshop I don't have anywhere near the opportunity to develop a painting a far as I would prefer. During a two week workshop I can obviously take the portrait that much further.

If I were to continue working on Leah's portrait I would continue to repeat the basic steps I employed in the scumble & refine stage, focusing on more subtlety of modeling and color. During the demo I documented the progress of my painting by shooting a photo whenever Leah took a break. She took breaks infrequently on the first day so I never had a chance to shoot my initial drawing. Those attending my workshop watched this progression first hand, including my stroke by stroke explanation as to the purpose of my every action. You can find more information about my classes and workshops on my teaching page or please feel free to contact me directly with any questions. To see the kind of results my students attain in a very limited span of time, please view some examples of student portraits and figure paintings as well as some artwork from my portrait painting workshop students.

Click here for additional step by step oil painting demonstrations.

1- First Day: Wash-in Underpainting



4- Second Day: Color Lay-in







11- Third Day: Scumble & Refine



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