What I wanted to do with this portrait painting of my son was to copy my technique from the painting of my daughter.
I feel like I succeeded somehow although in retrospect I could have used more and thicker layers of paint.
First I put down my colors 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. Different from my painting of Juanita is that I now used my everyday palette that I have gotten comfortable with.
The drawing was a very simple sketch that I did’nt use much time on. I did the sketch with a brush and paint. I have no preferences anymore between doing my sketches with brushes or pencils. My wife could see that I was my son but was not convinced at that point. But experience leaves me to say, that a sketch does not need to be so thorough. It needs to explain the most important flag points. And you correct the rest when the real layers of color gets on the canvas.
Shadows made with Raw Umber and Cadmium red. The darkest areas on this portrait consists of Ivory Black mixed with Cadmium red.
I mixed the middletones with my skin tone and and a mix of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. I left it fairly warm and reddish. The mix was used on the left side of the face as there were no real shadows on the area of the jar and cheek. When you have a portrait with almost no contrasts in dark and light you can built up the oval shapes from your middle tones to your lightest skin tones. That was what I did here.
My sons skin tone is fairly light. First mixed Burnt Sienna with Titatium White. I then added tinted Manganese Blue to the pool which made it much lighter and more grayish. I hit the skin color extremely well this time. When I painted my daughter https://portraitpaintingblog.com/portrait-painting-of-my-daughter-juanita/ I did’nt have the knowledge of color mixing that I have now. So her skin color was a little of from reality.
I used a primed tree board which I put a thick layer of Gesso on.
I used Bristle Brushes from Rosemary and W&N Colors for this one.
What could I have done better
As stated earlier I could have used thicker layers of paint on the portrait painting of my son. Especially around the lighter areas. This painting was a test for me. I had a 2 month break and needed to get the feeling back. I had’nt expected the portrait to end this well. So I framed it and put it next to the portrait of my daughter. I’m overall satisfied with the portrait.
This portrait painting of my daughter Juanita is really one of my older ones I did when I first tried to learn how to paint.
It’s not done in my traditional way of painting. It was done in a more intuitive way with molding fat layers of paint on the canvas. It’s a technique that I find hard to master now a days. But when I succeed like with the portrait of my daughter above it’s really satisfying.
Those fat layers of impasto paint really makes the portrait stand out and become alive.
This post will not be as long and thorough as the previous ones, as this portrait was done in another way.
I used a very simple palette for this portrait consisting of Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red,Yellow Ochre, Titanium White and Viridian
With this very simple palette I was able to mix the colors I needed. I used plenty of paint and was not stingy with the amount on my brushes
The drawing was a very simple sketch that I did’nt use much time on. One could see that it was my daughter but it was first after the layers of color that you could really see that is indeed was my daughter. Which leaves me to say, that a sketch does not need to be so thorough. It needs to explain the most important flag points.
The shadows made with Burnt Umber and Cadmium red. The darkest areas on this portrait consists also only with those 2 colors. I used no black color on this portrait.
Midle tones mixed with skin color and a little Viridian or Burnt Umber. Just a very small corn of paint changes the original pool of paint. Soft shadows in the eye sockets and in the forehead along the hair line made with Viridian.
Skin tone made with Titanium White, Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Red. This mix took me a long time to get right and as I remember I did it all over at least once. Today I have a way more easy way to mix a nice skin tone, compared to what I knew back then. There is no easy way to explain other than I altered the mix back and forth until I was satisfied. One thing is sure though, be careful with the Cadmium Red, as it is extremely powerful
I used a primed tree board which I put a thick layer of Gesso on.
I used Bristle Brushes from Rosemary and Gamlin Colors for this one.
What could I have done better
Theres no doubt that I would have done things in other ways had I been painting this one today. But it still stands out as one of my beds paintings to date. It’s very dificult for me to achieve the technique and the level of painting this way when I try it today. One thing I knew was that I used thick layers of paint and formed it and molded it over 2-3 days as it dried.
A very limited palette was used for this portrait painting of my daughter Juanita. I could have achieved better colors had I used the palette that I use today. I think my middle tones are to cold due to the use of BurntUmber and Viridian only.
When that said I am so very satisfied with the impasto look this painting has. Stained with fat colors which I like. I didn’t even dilute the shadows with Gamsol. I just smeared them one. It was so simple and yet I can’t copy it this day.
As usual this portrait painting of Sienna is on top of a pencil drawing. I have chosen not to make a post of the pencil drawing this time and go straight to the oil portrait. One thing I can say though was that my pencil drawing was very solid and resembled the model very accurate. This gave me the foundation and confidence to make this portrait which I personally think got pretty solid. Below is a photo of the drawing.
First I put down my colors 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. The following is a very thorough description of my color mixing for the portrait painting of Sienna, since I think it’s very important element. For more information see my page of color mixing. Links will be in the bottom of this post.
Mixing my darks for shadows was the next step for the portrait painting of Sienna. They consisted of 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 purpose is solely to put down paint the most very dark places on the drawing. In this case I used it along Scarlet Red where the right ear is covered in shadow. The nostrils as well. Last place was the right side of the neck which was almost completely black as no light hit this area on the model.
The shadows I made for the portrait painting of Sienna 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. I added Scarlet Red in the mix of shadows as my models had this rosa skin tone. I wanted that to be visible in the shadows. As you can see there’s a long almost red shadow line running down the cheek and jaw of the model. In this line I added particularly much Scarlet Red into the mix. I always analyze the exact area. This means that one area of shadows might have more red into them than others. This gives the portrait variety, character and dimension.
Darkest light mix
Then I mixed the Burnt Sienna and the Cobalt Blue. The pool consisted of 60 percent Burnt Sienna / 40 percent Cobalt Blue. This made a warm 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. When that said all half tones has a greyish look to them.
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. I chose to keep it fairly light as my overall skin tone was light.
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. I even put a very small amount of Scarlet Red into the mix as my model had this almost pinkish skin tone. But I’m always very careful with the red as it is very powerful and can ruin the mix very fast.
Added my light skin tone mix to the darkest lights mix for the portrait painting of Sienna. 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. Half tones tends to grey around the oval shapes on the face. But they still has 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 and the darkest areas of the ears. In the hollow spots in the eyes near the eyebrows I used more Yellow Ochre into to the mix to lighten the area. Was aware not to make it to yellow and therefore added more Scarlet Lake. The darker ares of the hair I simply laid down a thicker pile from my Darks added with more Olive Green and Yellow Ochre. 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 the paint. The two above mentioned colors mixed together were very close to the models real hair.
The right side of the face had extra of Burnt Sienna and Scarlet Red to make it have that pinkish look that my model had. With this area I was not stingy with the reds. I needed it to be very red. You can very clear see the red long line down the cheek and jaw line.
The half tones
The half tones 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 half tones reddish with the Scarlet Lake so it looked coherent with the shadows – but lighter. I think I managed pretty well to make the illusion of a turning cheek etc. Everywhere i analyze the areas if they are warm or cold and alter my mix accordingly with either warm or cold colors.
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.
In general I kept the skin tone very light on the portrait painting of Sienna. But doing so you have to be careful that it doesn’t go to cold. Because adding Titanium White to the mix cools it. And you don’t want a cold skin tone. So it’s a balance between Titanium White and adding Scarlet Lake.
Added highlights around the forehead, nose area, the tip of the chin 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. It was very equal to the sister of the model Indid some weeks before. In general I felt comfortable with the color mixing.
The eyes in general can be tricky. It’s such a small area to work at and I don’t want to make it to detailed. But this time with the portrait painting of Sienna I felt that I managed to keep it balanced and it didn’t prove to be to tricky for me. It’s a fine balance that you personally have to find. Sometimes I just mix a darker value for the eyes and don’t care much about mixing the exact same color as the model. I personally don’t feel that it does much to the portrait to have the exact eye color as the model.
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. Actually it may be the best work on this portrait. I feel the form and shades has a balanced softness that I like. Even the cast shadow underneath the nose has the perfect value and varmth to it.
I always think of my master when I paint shadows. Because he would always comment on the temperature of my shadows and urge me to use more red as a reflection of the flesh and blood underneath the shadows.
It may sound like there’s no flaws in this portrait. But to be honest I really feel I nailed this one accordingly to my level. Even my big Achilles heel the “mouth” turned out good. Again I kept telling my self to keep it soft! And so I did. I also kept the color of the lips not that far away from the general skin color. It’s a little trick I’ve learned by myself. I find the lips to look to unnatural if the color and value goes to far away from the surrounding skin tone.
Restating the day after
I felt pretty comfortable with the portrait after the first sitting. So I knew already from laying down the brushes that late first evening that I had nailed it. I thoug the day after add darker shadows do areas that needed it. Furthermore I added a little extra highlights in the models hair.
I added the background the day after ass well. This is a flaw that I very often do. Paint the background to late. It really has do be done much earlier into the painting as it lets you know if your values are correct. And it allows you to blend edges from the perimeter of the models face into the background.
What could I have done better
What I learned from this portrait was really to trust what I learned from previous mistakes. I felt I took this portrait a level up in quality compared to the portrait of the sister “Sofia”.
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.
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.
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 for the self portrait painting I made consisted of the previous pile mixed with Burnt Sienna and YellowOchre. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I met this guy 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 Argentinian guy. He had settled in Christiania in Denmark which is called the freedom town of Copenhagen. After some time he led me take some photos of him in the light of the street bulbs.
Reason to write all this about this guy is that he became one of my favourite models and I practice a lot from the photos I took of him. Besides that the long conversation with him gave me a deeper insight of him and that’s for go big value when I paint people.
In overall this a very lose sketch. It’s not a commision. it’s a painting I want to use for fairs later on. I have way more freedom with this drawing and painting and that’s very nice to have sometimes. It give me freedom to try new stuff and to research my palette and my brush strokes. I made this sketch with no hardcore measuring. What I mean by that is, that I didn’t use my pencil or brush to measure vital flagpoints like the space between the eyes, nose and mouth. I did it only by eye measuring. I like when I have the freedom to draw this way, because the sketch get’s kinda lose and caricature like without losing it’s alikeness.
Eyes was made lose as well. The right eye is almost totaly covered in shadow. I like these small features. That’s what gives your portrait a story and a feel. So when I put paint on later I definitely will keep the shadows. Besides that, the eyes came a little closer than the original, but that’s the price you pay when you don’t measure everything down to the milimeter.
There’s a little to much detail around the nose than I would like. I would like it to be more in shadow. But the reference just have a lot of light in this area. I could make up som shadow and maybe I will during the painting layers. But for now I keep it this way. Nose came out fine regarding measurement.
Kept the mouth very simple. I know from experience that the more simple the mouth looks the better. The model has a lot of beard in the area, and that just make’s it easier for me to simplify the mouth. It’s barely just the shadow line between the lips and the shadow line underneath the lower lip. I like it that way.
The shadows are dominant in this reference. And that’s just the way I like it. The contrasts during painting sessions will be very definite. I’m looking forward to see how it turns out during the painting sessions.
Reflection about the drawing is very important for the next stage of painting. It’s here you think about what story you wan’t to tell. And I want to tell a story of big contrasts, lot’s of hair and urban raw looking Argentinian. So the light source, the contrasts and the model in one unity will tell my story here – hopefully.
My family is going to Agentina soon, so I hope I can make the painting before we go.