Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Portrait of Lawrence in oils

This is a step by step description of a portrait in oils of my friend Lawrence Humphrey, painted and displayed with his kind permission. Lawrence is a portrait artist himself and I believe has painted more portraits than I have eaten hot dinners so I wanted this to be as good as I could do.
The work itself took several stages to complete. The first was a drawing of Lawrence in order to become more familiar with his face. Doing this helps me find any problems I will encounter in advance and allows me to time to consider them before I begin the painting, even though the sketch is done separately it will provide a good reference during the painting.

The drawing helps me recognize the dominant features in the model and during the sketching process I have become more cognizant of the face. With the rough sketch done I then begin creating a new work in oils on a canvas.

The sketch now begins again but this time with a bristle brush and a wash of burnt umber oil. In this early stage I am just generally trying once again, to place the features I felt were important and maintain their relationship to each other in order to achieve likeness. Once I am satisfied with their proportions and relationship I then wash in very thinned color. In this case I am placing on the canvas the color shapes with cadmium red and cadmium yellow washes.

At this point the portrait is beginning to take shape, the main light and dark shapes have been established, I am satisfied with the features and their proportions and the painting is starting to gain presence, this is the point where I feel the painting is starting to take on the illusion that you are looking at somebody and not just a painting. Of course there's still plenty of room for a change here and there if need be. I let the painting sit for a while to tack up, a week or two will do it.

Now I can work a little more on the shadows and lights and try enhancing some of that sense of presence. A portrait like this could be continued ad infinitum but I like it with it's roughened look where the colors still provide some enjoyable agitaton for the eye. I am glad to say that having seen it Lawrence himself is quite pleased with it also.

Thanks for Looking :)


  1. Wonderful post and wonderful portrait!

    1. Thanks Leslie, very good of you to visit once again, glad you like the work :)

  2. Brilliant post Kevin,and a great portrait, look forward to more of these.

    1. Thanks Phil that means a lot to me coming from an artist of your skill, thanks for visiting :)


Oh wow ! a comment, I just love comments :) thanks very much.

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