Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Starting a Portrait in Oil with Katie Blackwell -- Welcome to Cheap Joe's Test Studio!

Hi! In this segment I'll be going over with you the way that I would start a painting.

I'm going to show you how I start a portrait - it's not going to be incredibly thorough, but it's at least how I start an under-painting and focus on each characteristic of the face.

My picture is not the best picture, you really want as good a quality as you can get. This is the model in most of my paintings so I know her face by heart anyway - and that helps.

So what I do when I start - no matter what - is begin with the middle color and just go over the whole thing.

The picture is a little yellow but I know that her face isn't really yellow. So I'm going to take my palette knife and see what kind of color I can extract.

It doesn't matter exactly what color for the first couple layers, but if it's close to the skin tone you want it's better.

I'm going to put this on pretty thin so I can still see the lines that I've already drawn on there.

A lot of times people take a long time drawing out with the pencil for the under-painting of a face. That kinda stinks because a soon as you start painting over it, it all disappears. It's better to do it with some paint like I did here and let it dry. As soon as it's dry you can go back and start painting over it.

If you didn't want to wait a whole day for it to dry you can do your under-painting in acrylics.

Alright, so our face is kind of gray-blue, and that's ok. In the picture I can't really see where her face ends, so I have to make it up.

I'm going to start with big blotchy colors. I'll start with the highlights - pure Titanium white - and go over anywhere I see a lot of white. I tend to start at the top of the portrait and then go down.

Of course squinting your eyes definitely helps in this process. If you're thinking about "oh my gosh I'm painting a nose or an ear" then you're painting what your head wants you to think you're seeing.

Once you've been painting for a while, it's kinda just how you see everything.

The forehead is really interesting because you need to make all the indentations that you can see on there where the skull is, as exact as possible. A lot of portrait have flat foreheads and it looks kinda fake.

The color I'm using now - the transparent Orange Oxide is definitely one of my favorites for flash. It's one of the M. Graham Artist Oils and they have beautiful pleasing colors - there's a lot of pigment.

I'm going to blend all this in a little bit. Depending on how many layers you put, you can do it a lot thinner than I am now. It's fairly thick for me.

She looks a bit like an alien, but that won't last too long. If it's always bad when you're starting then that's a good sign. It means you're not looking at it too closely - at least the details.

Now I'm going to turn her from an alien into some sort of a person. With a darker color I'm going to start laying in some more exact shapes.

The eyes are everything in a painting - once you get the eyes down it's easy to match up the rest of the features.

It's also important to remember that with eyes, they're oval. They're all different shapes, different shadows, the lids are always going to be in a different position, etc.

Coming around the nose, I'm going to play with the negative space here. I know this won't look right until I get a good dark in the background and get the edge of her nose in there.

I'm working on the mouth of the portrait - people always forget this little highlight over the lip - but that's what really makes the lip pucker out and make it look like a face.

Lips are fun because they have all these little lines that poke out. Most of those I wouldn't do until closer to the end, but right now I do want to get the idea in there.

It doesn't quite look like her yet, but if you just keep going back and forth putting little details here and there. When it gets too wet, let it dry, go back the next day (or 6 hours later) and try again.