Self portrait painting made in oil

Self Portrait painting made with oil colors from Winsor And Newton
Portraitpaintingblog – a self portrait

This portrait was the first real success with the palette I use now a days. I made one before this one that I discarded. It was meant as a training session, but I was happy with the result and kept it and framed it for a part of my portfolio.

Color mixing

Started putting down my colors for this self portrait painting which consisted 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. All my colours are from Windsor & Newton.

For an in depth information about my color mixing and the colours I use follow this link: https://portraitpaintingblog.com/color-palette-portrait-painting/

Darks

Mixing the pool of darks for the very darkest areas and the shadows for the self portrait painting 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 / 30 percent Alizarin Crimson / 10 percent Ultramarine Blue. The percentage of colours used in the pool varies a bit from portrait to portrait. Mostly due to the fact that I’m at the moment trying to find the perfect balance. Why not use an Ivory Black in stead you might say? But the fact is that I like this transparent mix of colours. When you mix it further in to the shadow areas with Burnt Sienna one can really see the mix’s potential.

Shadows

Shadows for the self portrait painting I made consisted of the previous pile mixed with Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. I am Scandinavian of origin and my skin tone has a light tone to it but still more warm than a very light Scandinavian. Because of that I was not overly careful with the adding of Burnt Sienna into the mix. I put an average portion of Manganese Blue Hue in the mix, since I didn’t want to neutralize the reddish hue to much and I didn’t want to grey it to much either. In pertange it might have been 5 percent compared to the total pool. Shadows were made as an average of all the shadows that was on the model. In retrospect this was not my greatest shadow area. It didn’t lighten as the oval shape of the neck turned more into the light.

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. It made a grey that could be altered warm and cold in temperature. This mix was later used to make the half tones which is a mix of this pool and the skin tone pool. I tend to keep the half tones more reddish or warm as that looks more like flesh or skin. This mix is a little special. It serves a very important purpose but the mix is only used together with my skin tone mix, not on its own.

Neutralizer

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 for the self portrait painting consisted of Burnt Sienna and Titanium White – in the following order. Since my portrait was fairly light I was not afraid to lighten it and grey it with the neutraliser. It came out perfect in value so this almost very first time I mixed this pool. This mixing really boosted my self confidence at the time. I could then alter the pool in a warmer, cold or more yellowish direction.

Half tones

Added my light skin tone mix to the darkest lights mix. This made my half tones. The 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 very neutral but heading a a little cold on this portrait

Laying down the paint

Shadow areas

I always lay down my shadows from the darkest areas to the lightest. No expection this self portrait painting either. Used my darkest pool of darks to the corners of the eyes and the nostrils. If you look closely you will notice that I didn’t soften the dark line over the left eye. It seemed to hard and like it had been drawn. That’s a flaw. But I learned from it. As mentioned earlier my shadows did not turned out very well this time. At least not in the area of the neck. It was to green and to flat to look at. That’s a flaw again. Next time I will mix the shadow with more Burned Sienna. I painted most of the hair from the pool of shadows. I lightneded it with Burned Sienna and made highlights with Yellow Ochre.

Half tones

In the sockets of the eyes, around the nose, and around the eyes where there was oval shapes I added the half tones. I started to paint the side of the cheeks near the hair line in dark shadow tones but it came out wrong. I changed it to half tones which came out way better to the skin tones. The half tones in the described area leans toward the cold spectre. I always try to be true to my reference regarding half tones and shadows. I see some classical painters paint shadows very red even though the light hitting the face makes the shadow more cold.

Skin tone

Started laying down paint where the skin tones were the darkest. In this case it was in the forehead and the nose area. I yellowed the skin in the forehead with Yellow Ochre according to the reference. Likewise down the side of the nose on the left. I then graduately lightneded it with Titanium White while I added small portions of Scarlet Red and Burnt Sienna in the mix to minimize the cooling effect of Titanium White. It’s a difficult process for me because I have to lighten the mix and at the same time keep warmth to the cheek areas. The lightest areas was in this case my forehead and underneath my eyes. Titanium White was added to the mix until I felt value and temperature was correct.

Highlights

Highlights were not that dorminating on this self portrait painting. I concentrated on making oval shapes more than anything else. What I did make was a small white line down the nose, a little dot on the nose and a few dots near the tear canals of the eye. I mixed a microscopic drop of Scalet Lake in Titanium White and that was my highlight material.

Eyes

As always I paid a lot of attention to the eyes during the painting. I was aware that there were more shadow around the right eye. I painted the eye and shadow in one colour, but ended up lightening the pupil a little with Burnt Sienna. As stated before the dark lines above the eye assembling the eye lid got to harsh. They should have been softened more. It almost look like an eyeliner and that’s a flaw.

Nose

Compared to my present skill level the nose got okay. I wished I had made it look a little more round with some half tones playing around shadows and skin tones. The form, shape and temperature + value of the skin tone was perfect though. I used Yellow Ochre in my skin tone mix and added Scarlet Lake in the erea of the nose bud.

Mouth

Shape of the mouth was very correct according to my reference. The colour of the lips and the value was perfect as well. The mouth was to harsh. The paint should have been softened and blended into the skin tone around the mouth.

Restating

I honestly did near no restating on this one. I finnished in one setting. The question is that I should have looked at it the day after and corrected the flaws mentioned earlier. I just didn’t know at time the importance of restating.

Reflection

Overall I’m actually quite happy for this self portrait. It was my second painting with a hole new palette and new types of Nylon brushes. There’s many things I would have corrected had it been today. The truth is though that this portrait was one my most learning experiences and session ever. It not only gave me confidence in my new materials and palette but also my technique. So in many ways this is one of my favourite portraits because it launched me forward and it hold a lot of history to me.

It’s important to notice what style you like and want to paint before you start a portrait. You have to ask yourself if you want the painting to be photo realistic. You have to ask yourself if the painting should be a story of brush strokes, values and temperatures combined into simplicity.

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 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/

My Easel is from Edge Pro Gear: https://www.edgeprogear.com/

Nylon brushes from Trekell: https://www.trekell.com/

Oil portrait painting of Argentinian Guy

Portrait painting of Argentinian Guy
Portrait painting of the Argentinian Guy

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.

Color mixing

Started putting down my colors for this oil portrait painting which consists of Cadmium Green,Burnt SiennaScarlet LakeYellow OchreIndian Yellow, Titanium WhiteManganese Blue HueCobalt BlueDioxazine PurpleAlizarin CrimsonOlive GreenUltramarine 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/

Darks

Mixing my darks for the shadows was the next step. The darks consists of the colors Olive GreenAlizarin Crimzon and Ultramarine Blue. This pool of darks had 60 percent Olive green / 20 percent Alizarin Crimson / 20 percent Ultramarine Blue.

Shadows

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.

Neutralizer

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.

Half tones

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

Shadow areas

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.

Half tones

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 tone

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

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.

Eyes

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.

Nose

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.

Mouth

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

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.

Reflection

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/

Portrait oil of Sofia

Portrait painting in oil of Sofia
Portrait of Sofia, made in oil from Winsor and Newton

As stated earlier in my pencil drawing from the 9 th. of march Sofia is my cousins daughter. She was 9 years old when this portrait painting was made.

Based on the foundation of my drawing I knew I would have a good start and felt secure to start putting on layers of paint. That meant that I did’nt need to put to much effort in correcting the drawing with my paint.

In the following I will explain in chronological order how I build up the portrait painting in oil of Sofia.

Color mixing

Started putting down my colors 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. The following is a very thorough describtion of my color mixing, since I find it very important the nature of it. For more information see my page of color mixing.

Darks

Mixing my darks for shadows was the next step. They consisted of Olive Green, Alizarin Crimzon and Ultramarine Blue. From previous experiences i added a little more Alizarin Crimson this time, so I knew the shadows would have a little more red in them. It just looks more like skin if you can see the red in your shadows.

Shadows

The shadows I made consisted of the previous pile mixed with Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. Since my portrait was fairly light in the skin tone I mixed a little more Yellow Ochre in the mix to lighting it up. The shadows need to be a middle value of all the shadows that persists in the portrait.

Middle tones

Then I mixed the middle tones with the Burnt Sienna and the Cobalt Blue. This makes a nice grey that can be altered in a warm and a cold spectre. This mix is later used to make the darkest lights. These darkest lights are used everywhere there’s oval shapes – “explained further down”. In this portrait I used more Burnt Sienna, which would make it warmer, since my shadows were also warm. To keep it as coherent as possible

Neutralizer

This color mix is my neutralizer because it calms down the redness in the later mixing of the exact 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. This mix was made approximately with half of each color.

Light tone / Skin tone

The light tone consisted of Burnt Sienna and Titanium White – in the following order. Since my portrait was very light and almost pinkish in her skin tone I lightninged it more with Titanium White. After this I mixed my Neutralizer into it, to grey it more and neutralize the red Hue. It was an overall light skin tone.

The darkest lights mix

Added my light skin tone mix to the middle tone mix. This made my darkest lights. 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.

Laying down the paint

Shadow areas

I always lay down my shadows from the darkest areas to the lightest. No expection this time either. Used my darkest pool of darks to the corners of the eyes and the nostrils. In the the neck line I used more Yellow Ochre in the dark mix as the neck turned more and more towards the light. Was aware not to make it to yellow and therefore added more Scarlet Lake along the way. The shadows or darker ares of the hair I added more Olive Green to my mix. Olive Green works very well to darken blond hair as this model had.

Darkest lights

The darkest lights mix was added where the cheek turned, around the nose area, around the chin and around the eyebrows. Always do that. Was aware to make the dark light mix reddish with the Scarlet Lake so I look coherent with the shadow – but lighter. I think I managed pretty well to make the illusion of a turning cheek etc. Everywhere i analyzed the areas if they were warm or cold and altered my mix accordingly.

Skin tone

Skin tones were first added next to the cheek area and chin area since I knew these were the most red areas and had some of the most “darkest” areas regarding value. Later I put down the skin tone paint at the side of the skull near the hair line, as these areas seems to fade from the light. Around the skull in general and in the forehead near the hair line I put down the first layers of skin tone paint with the darkest value and again I added a little bit of Scarlet Lake to the mix. After this I added paint to the nose area and in the lower part of the forehead in the middle of the eyes. Now with the darkest areas in the skin tone area set I could work my way towards the light by adding Titanium White to my skin tone mix.

Highlights

Added highlights around the forehead, nose area and small dots around the eyes. Never use Titanium White on it’s own for highlights. So I added a tiny bit of Scarlet Lake to my highlights to give it a reddish feel. It’s barely visible. In the hair I tinted some Indian Yellow and put this mix in has highlights in the hair.

Eyes

The eyes in general can be tricky. They did turn out to require extra work for me as well. It’s such a small area to work at and I don’t want to make it to detailed. It’s a fine balance that you personally have to find. Think I managed to find the balance here both regarding the eye color and the small discreet details around the eyes like little hightlights and small areas of flesh that are more exposed to light than others.

Nose

The nose did not give me much trouble with this portrait. It was probably because I had a very solid drawing underneath. Laid down the darkest lights next to the shadows and made them a little more red. And then I graduately moved towards the light accordingly to the oval shape of the nose. Sometimes the form of the nose slips as you put down layers of paint, but I was lucky this time to keep it true to the model.

Mouth

As when I’m drawing so painting this area which I find most troublesome. So was it this time. Found the painting of this mouth was a little to hard. The paint is to defined and look so much like lines – like a drawing. I would have liked the edges to have been even softer. This is important, but still I find it hard. The more soft the mouth is painted the less hard it looks and the less it looks like a drawing.

Restating the day after

The day after during my restating of the portrait painting in oil of Sofia I found out that I had lost my drawing a little during the painting. Especially around the eyes. But I managed to get back on track and the eyes acutally turned out better than in the drawing.

What could I have done better and reflection

I think this portrait painting in oil of Sofia came out well. I wiped away the hole first session of painting once and stripped it down to the drawing. First session turned out way to light in my skin tone mix. Found that I had made it to light even though the model was light. I learned to keep my skin tone more to the average of the hole skin tone area. In this case it meant that I had to add more Burnt Sienna in the skin tone mix. But it was a very learning proces for me and it was not as discouraging as I have felt before. I’ve managed to keep a good balance between it looking like a painting and not to realistic and still being true to the features of the model. As mentioned before I would have liked the mouth to be more soft.

Links

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/