Saturday, 25 August 2012

Portrait in Oils - all about hair

I have just finished a portrait commission, which was a little bit unusual as it didn't include the sitters face... The model is a professional pianist, and she loved the depth in the image - so the focus is on her, but we see what she is looking at. Compositionally it  is very striking, with the figure taking up less than half the area of the painting, and the large strip of piano-black being challenged by the even larger strip of music-white, with out of focus multi-colours in the furthest background.

For me, it was good to get to play with hair, as well as dolloping large amounts of colour at the top, and resisting the temptation to make the shapes look like something recognisable. The whole thing looks very Painty - slightly thicker application of paint than I often use, so that it doesn't look so like a photograph.

Up and coming - Oils weekend, and a two day portrait workshop. 
email for info. 


  1. This looks great--I wish I knew how you did the highligted area--looks like small sideways-tilted brush strokes. I make one long stroke and it looks awful.


  2. Hi Judy, I do at least 3 layers of paint. The first layer looks like a water colour using just one earth-tone, perhaps burnt sienna or raw umber, thinned with Sansodor. Then I lay on the colour, in blocks at first then more detail in each layer. I don't really do long strokes as such, more short strokes or blocks, then drag those out. In this painting I used small strokes diagonally after all the other layers were done to indicate what I could see in the model. There is no correct way to do it - with each image you find a way to do what you want to do THAT da, or at least TRY anyway. I have to say also that I avoided doing people/flesh/hair until I was more familiar with oil paint.