Thursday, November 8, 2012


Recently, I received a commission to do an oil portrait of three young adults from the same family. The collector requested a 20" x 20" canvas, and gave me permission to post the portrait from beginning to end.

I must first warn everyone...I paint in layers and so what you see in these first few posts will not be what you see in the finished piece. Colors shift and change as hair color and clothing, background and detailing are done, and as the light in the studio changes. Sometimes I can get good photos that accurately reflect what is on the canvas and other times it looks too dark or too light compared to the actual work.

So, having given that warning, here are the first few photos of the beginning stages of this very fun-to-do painting. 

The first step is to draw what will be the portrait onto the canvas. The photo reference is a rectangular picture, but the collector and I decided to go for a square format, which we find a more interesting shape for this portrait. It also allows me to show more of the 3 figures, and cut down on the amount of background that surrounds them.

The first thing I did was block in the eyes in each of the figures. Here I have begun to put in the first layer of flesh tones in the female's face. She's going to look strange for quite a while as I do some parts of the face and leave others...

Here you can see how the face is being developed, slowly creating the planes of the face in the underpainting.  
A bit more is done here. As the work progresses, more layers are done, adding dimension to the face. Eye color will be adjusted toward the end of the painting, and hair will also be one of the final things to be done. 

So here is the beginning of this work that I will be enjoying for the next several weeks. I hope you will come back to see what the next steps look like! :-)

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