I met this guy randomly on the street sittin in front of a tattoo shop playing his guitar. He looked like a type and had his hair and beard grown to an impressive length. I sat down and talked with him and found out he was quite a traveler, he’d been to India and various parts of the world. He was Argentinian just like my wife. I imideately got the idea to make a portrait pencil sketch of him. After some time he led me take some photos of him in the light of the street bulbs.
The following is an in depth description of my painting process for this portrait.
Started putting down my colors for this oil portrait painting which consists of Cadmium Green,Burnt Sienna, Scarlet Lake, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Titanium White, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Olive Green, Ultramarine Blue. I put down the colors in the order as described above from left to right.
For an in depth information on my color mixing use this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/color-palette-portrait-painting/
Mixing my darks for the shadows was the next step. The darks consists of the colors Olive Green, Alizarin Crimzon and Ultramarine Blue. This pool of darks had 60 percent Olive green / 20 percent Alizarin Crimson / 20 percent Ultramarine Blue.
The shadows I made consisted of the previous pile mixed with Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. My model was argentinian and his skin tone had a brown/reddish nature. Because of that I was not careful with the Burnt Sienna, which I knew made it reddish. It made me put less Manganese Blue Hue in the mix, since I didn’t want to neutralize the reddish hue to much. Shadows were made as an average value of all the shadows that persisted on the model.
Darkest light mix
Then I mixed the Burnt Sienna and the Cobalt Blue. The pool consted of 60 percent Burnt Sienna / 40 percent Cobalt Blue. This made a grey that could be altered in a warm and cold spectre. This mix was later used to make the half tones which is a mix of this pool and the skin tone pool. Half tones are used everywhere there’s oval shapes – “explained further down”. I tend to keep the half tones more reddish or warm as that looks more like flesh or skin.
This color mix is my neutralizer because it calms down the redness in the later mixing of the skin color. The mix is a must to neutralize the red hue of the Scarlet Lake that effects the skin tone color mix. This mix consists of Manganese Blue Hue tinted with Titanium White. The mix was made approximately with 70 percent Manganese Blue and Titanium White. It was a little more blue and darker in value this time than my previous portraits. Reason for this was that I didn’t wan’t to much light in the mix which would lighten my skin tone pool later on.
Light tone / Skin tone
The light tone consisted of Burnt Sienna and Titanium White – in the following order. Since my portrait was fairly dark and warm I make an average with mire Burnt Sienna. It came out a little dark in value so this time i split the pool up in 2. One of the pools I lightened more with Titanium White. This gave me 2 pools for the skin tones which lay somewhere around an average. After this I mixed my Neutralizer into it, to grey it more and neutralize the red Hue. The skin tone came out exactlt as I wanted it. Maybe because I had 2 pools to play with.
Added my light skin tone mix to the darkest lights mix. This made my half tones. This mix is very important as it is used everywhere there is oval shapes. This makes an even more light grey in which you can alter in temperature according to your models features. Halft tones tends to grey around the oval shapes on the face. But they still had temperature to them that can vary from warm and cold. In general my half tones were warm on this portrait.
Laying down the paint
I always lay down my shadows from the darkest areas to the lightest on my oil portrait paintings. No expection this time either. Used my darkest pool of darks to the corners of the eyes and the nostrils. In the hollow spots in the eyes near the eyebrows I used more Yellow Ochre on the left eye and more Cadmium Green on the right. I don’t know why but my reference had 2 different temperatures in each eye and I was loyal to that. Was aware not to make it to yellow and therefore added more Scarlet Lake along the way regarding the left eye. The darker ares of the hair I simply laid down a thicker pile from my Darks. As the dark pool is transparent it’s fairly easy to make the illusion of less or more hair. It’s simply about putting down more paint or removing to paint.
The half tones were added in the sockets of the eyes near the eyebrows, around the nose, and around the eyes where there was oval shapes. The left eye near the corner/tear kanal had more half tones to make it look like an oval shape due to the round shape of the eye itself laying underneath the skin. The right eye was covered in pure shadow but also had half tones. I needed half tones here to “get out” of the shadow properly. I couldn’t just go from pure dark to a highligt. The contrast would be to big, in this case I used half tones to properly “crawl” out of the shadows. It also dadded to the illusion of an oval shape from the swollen part underneath the models right eye. Half tones were added around the left side of the nose and cheek area.
Skin tones were first added to the area of the forehead since I knew these were the most red areas and had some of the most “darkest” areas regarding value. I then laid down paint around the skull and in the forehead near the hair line. I started on the left side of the face. This was the darkest area. I then worked my way towards to light. I paid attention to the left cheek and correctly lightened it to make the illusion of a round shape. It was done by adding more Titanium White and Scarlet Lake into the mix. By doing so I lightened the area and added more red which is quite often shown in the cheeks. In genereal I just added Titanium White to my mix to go lighter.
Highlights on the reference was quite powerful. I wanted to show that best possible on this oil portrait painting. Because of that my highlights needed to have big contrast to the other areas. Highlights on the nose laid right next to the shadows in the right eye. I used mainly Titanium White mixed with a little bit of skin tone to keep it coherent. I then added my neutral mix as it. This gave my highlights a little blueish hue. It had the effect of givin the impression of cold and strong light from the street lamps. It may be dificult to see on the photo though.
As always I paid a lot of attention to the eyes regarding my oil portrait painting. The right eye was all covered in shadow but the shape of she shadow was still very important for me to keep. I paid attention to put more Scarlet lake in the corners of the eyes. The eyes were a little of on the sketch and I tried to correct it a little with the paint. The eyes were a little to close to each other, and I had to push them further away from each other without destroying the overall shape and form.
The nose had the majority of highlights. It required of me to repaint the form a couple of times. Especialy the tip of the nose I lost a couple of times. The nostrils were simple and I made them from my dark pool and the shadow pool.
The beard around the mouth saved me. Shadows covered the lips. The mouth area was made from the shadow pool with a few highlights. It’s my most succesful mouth so far on a portrait. Maybe because of it’s simplicity.
Restating the day after on your oil portrait painting. As the darkest layers had dried up a little they had at the same time lightened a little. I had to add some extra dark in the beard to make the illusion of more depth. I corrected a couple of highlights in the forehead that had simply gone to white and made it look flat. Added more warmth to the cheeks with Scarlet Lake. Softened both lines near the eyelid fold on both eyes. Very hard lines looks bad in portraits.
In overall I’m very happy with this oil portrait painting. It is one of my best portraits. I’m satisfied with my color mixing which landed exactly how I wanted it. I’m getting more firm with the mixing of the skin tone. Shadows and middle tones landed very good to. My drawing slipped a little regarding the eyes and I feel thats visible in the portrait. On the other hand you can still se the alikeness from the reference. My conclusion is that, that is the price I pay when I draw without hardcore measuring. I have come to a stage where it’s okay to accept this. It’s part of the painting process. And I feel it makes it more interesting and more fun to paint.
Links to previous content
For more information about how I build up my portrait step by step follow this link https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-painting-step-by-step/
Fore more information about how I mix my colors follow this link https://portraitpaintingblog.com/color-palette-portrait-painting/
To compare with the pencil sketch that was the foundation for this portrait follow this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-pencil-sketch-of-argentinian-guy/
To see a previous oil portrait painting for comparison follow his link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-painting-oil-sofia/
Links to the materials and brands I use
Paint from Winsor & Newton artist color: http://www.winsornewton.com/row/
Bristle brushes from Rosemary and Co: https://www.rosemaryandco.com/
Ampersand boards from: https://www.ampersandart.com/
Nylon brushes from Trekell: https://www.trekell.com/
My Easel is from Edge Pro Gear: https://www.edgeprogear.com/