Archive for the ‘portrait’ Category

Peppermint Butler oil painting (work-in-progress)

February 2, 2015

I love this little guy from Adventure Time so I’m doing an oil painting. It will go in a crazy ornate baroque picture frame that I have had sitting around for ages. This is supposed to evoke Sir Thomas Lawrence or  Sir Joshua Reynolds, an old royal/military portrait that would hang in an English country estate.

Here it is after a few sessions, still have a while to go. Mostly deciding what to do as I go along, without much planning.


Peppermint Butler WIP

Peppermint Butler WIP



A Country Girl Near the Dream City (revised – 2012)

June 28, 2012

I’ve been taking some previously completed paintings that I wasn’t happy with and making some changes to them when I thought that spending the time would be worth it. I recently made some big but fairly quick changes to “A Country Girl Near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City (2012)

A Country Girl near the Dream City (2012)

The way I see it, if I have something that I am almost happy with, it’s worth the risk of making it worse and it’s worth the extra time (let’s say an additional 15%) to try and make it better. I have been forcing myself to just focus on the key aspects that will improve the painting the most and have been pretty good about not letting myself start changing too much. I also ensure that I have a good plan of attack and have done studies so that I know how exactly to alter the painting once I get started. In this case I had been thinking about changes since last year, and did some tests in Photoshop to make sure that if I did alter stuff that it would look the way I wanted, rather than just employing trial and error which could end in frustration and an at least temporarily ruined painting.

This one went smoothly and I’m really glad that I took the extra couple hours so that now I have a painting I am much happier about.

Master Study – Robert Campin

May 20, 2012

I decided that I need to do more studying with the old masters…to start I am going to try painting one by Robert Campin: (link opens in a new window)

I have a nice hi-resolution picture of the original painting, which I cropped so I can just focus on the face. I especially love the way he did the eyes.

I’m painting this on 8×10 wood panel in oils and will use a monochromatic “dead layer” underpainting to start. I will then glaze color over it and do additional work on the shadows and highlights at that point too.

This is after 1 hour of painting and a few hours of drawing:


Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

Robert Campin study WIP 05-20-2012

I sketched this freehand on the panel but divided the panel into 4 sections, then did the same to my photo to give me a little assistance in making it more accurate to the original.

This underpainting is all in raw umber and titanium white…I did my usual method before that of going over the drawing in sepia Sharpie pen then putting an imprimatura wash of yellow and black mixed acrylic over the drawing. This time I also used an eraser to get rid of most of the pencil before putting the acrylic on.

Here’s what it looked like drawn on the panel and then inked with the imprimatura, almost ready to start painting:

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura

Robert Campin study drawing and imprimatura


Sketch after Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

May 10, 2012

I’ve really been drawing a lot but most of the stuff is pretty quick or for whatever reason I haven’t been posting the stuff here. Here’s one I did last night though, I spent about an hour doing this sketch from a photo of a really amazing painting by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. This is about 3×4 inches and it’s Col-Erase pencils on a greyish paper. I really like being able to add highlights onto a drawing…my primary medium is oil paint and it’s so flexible! I usually feel pretty limited when I am drawing instead of painting…

Anyway, here’s the sketch:

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

After Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

A Country Girl near the Dream City

October 14, 2011

Update: I revised this painting later, new version is here

OK, I finished this a while ago but didn’t post it partly cuz I have been planning for a big Europe trip which I just came back from. I got to see lots of amazing art and scenery and stuff and am now fully inspired and ready to start on some new projects 🙂

I wanted this one to be a fairly quick project and I succeeded in that respect, this took me only about 12 hours to paint – that’s very short for me. It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas. I call it “A Country girl near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A main goal was to use some atmospheric perspective in the landscape background and to use canvas instead of wood panel to try to get a nice soft feel, especially in the background. I am really happy with the way the landscape turned out and also had fun with the hair, which I did a bit differently this time. Some influences on this one were Tamara de Lempicka, Albrecht Dürer, and Leonardo da Vinci.

I used cobalt blue in the sky, landscape, and clothing. The landscape is mostly yellow ochre and other yellows plus cobalt blue.

I’m not sure how long I spent on the drawing and planning but I started painting on  March 2, 2011 and was done on April 3. I had a show I wanted this to be in so I didn’t putz around – it’s funny how much faster and smarter I work when I have a deadline. Looking back over my notes I had a good time painting this and it went very smoothly with minimal frustration – very nice after a couple recent projects that I kept changing over and over.

Here is the drawing:

Country Girl drawing

Country Girl drawing


After I completed the drawing I xeroxed it in order to preserve the original and rubbed graphite on the back of the copy. I then taped it to the canvas and went over it with a ballpoint pen to transfer the lines onto the canvas. I then went over those faint lines with a fine sepia sharpie and put a thin wash of transparent olive-green (black combined with yellow) acrylic to wash away the graphite and lock everything into place. I then painted everything directly with oils, no glazing or monochromatic underpainting on this one.


Transferring the drawing to canvas

Transferring the drawing to canvas



Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

March 31, 2011

This is my finished painting “Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra”. It is 11 x 14 inches, oil on wood panel.

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

Duplicitous Dionara and Devious Diandra (detail)

For this one I used a monochromatic underpainting / dead layer which I later glazed over in color. Here are the work-in-progress posts I did which include some photos of the dead layer: Duplicitous WIP posts

I spent about 30 hours painting this over about 8 months. I’m not sure how much time I spent doing studies and planning but I would guess 10-15 hours. That’s more than I usually spend planning…it helped me to avoid having to change stuff in the middle of the project.

Overall I spent the most time on the hair. When I first started this project it was supposed to be a quick one…I ended up making the hair complicated though and spent a rather long time on the faces too, so the project ended up being much longer and more complicated than I had expected.

Here are the main oil colors I used for this painting:

Underpainting of flesh areas: Raw umber and titanium white

Flesh tones – glazed and opaque color: Yellow ochre, cadmium red hue, titanium white, raw umber, burnt umber

Dress: Titanium white, phthalo blue, raw umber

Here are a some of the preparatory drawings I did for the hair and dress as well as a detail of the main drawing:

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Hair studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

Dress studies for Duplicitous

"Duplicitous" sketch

"Duplicitous" sketch

I don’t look on the studies as being just useful for this painting since they help me increase my drawing skills in general. On the hair I also wanted to learn how to do ringlets and curls better and I’m sure I will use that style in other works.

Dream City Girl 2 – WIP 2

March 23, 2011

This painting is moving along quickly, which is good because I am trying to finish it by next week if possible…in time for my art show. I don’t want to rush it though, so I might decide it’s not gunna happen. Hmm….

Oil on canvas, 11×14 inches.


Dream City Girl 2 – WIP

March 21, 2011

Here’s a detail of a new painting I am working on. Right now I am calling it “Dream City Girl 2” since it’s kinda like my Graveyard Girl from the Dream City painting.

It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas and I’m hoping to finish it within a couple weeks – a super-fast project for me, since most usually end up taking several months.

DCG2 WIP detail

Portrait of Sarah

November 15, 2010

I finished this painting a while ago but apparently I forgot to post anything about it 🙂

This is a friend of mine; I took some pictures in a makeshift studio AKA my living room and used one as a basis for this painting. It’s oil on panel, 8×10 inches and I finished it in a few hour-long sessions.

Portrait of Sarah by Airn LeBus

Portrait of Sarah by Airn LeBus

Duplicitous work in progress 3 – started glazing color

July 4, 2010

It’s been a few painting sessions since my last post on this…since then I have started glazing transparent color over the “dead layer” underpainting of the faces and done more work on the hair:

Duplicitous work in progress detail

Duplicitous work in progress (detail)

No part of this is quite finished yet, but the hair ringlets and faces probably only need another session or two. I might add ribbons to the hair and dress and am debating what else to do on the dress, I don’t like the way it looks right now. I’m also going to put something in the background; I will probably paint a traditional-looking wallpaper pattern.

I’m happy about the glazing, it works very well over the dead layer and is surprisingly quick to do, like an hour or less was spent on each face adding color. In the same and subsequent sessions I also add opaque highlights, clean up lines, darken shadows, slightly alter features and fix any issues I notice, etc.