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Commission Portrait Oil Painting – Laying In The Foundation

I did not sketch a drawing on the canvas.  Drawings quickly get covered by paint and are rendered useless unless one only paints up to the lines . This does not work well because the edges between the lines will be very poor. A considerable amount of paint will be applied over many layers, and the edges must be soft, so I will add thin paint layers freely without a drawing underneath so my edges will be beautiful.

To get a basic idea of where to position the figure on the canvas,  I began a rough paint sketch with Raw Umber and Black outlining the hair.  For the skin I mixed  raw umber,  terra rossa and white.    In the background  I loosely applied a mix of veridian, black and white.


I was also trying to determine how dark I wanted the background to be. You can still see my loose dry underpainting from the chest down.

I decided to darken and define the edges of the arms.  Adriana was standing indoors with  cool window light coming in from the left.  I decided to cool the flesh tone by introducing more white and umber into the flesh mix.  Adding a little lemon yellow and white,  I begin  to introduce some light into the hair.

I am using Gamsol, a non-toxic turpentine substitute, to clean my Escoda Takatsu filbert soft blend filament brushes. These brushes are much softer than bristle and have a fine point and sharp edge when needed. I find them much more flexible and easier to control than bristle. I also use Walnut oil to clean my brushes and to thin paint. I am using no painting medium at this early stage in the painting. The paint should be applied very lean and thin in the early stages so I am only using Gamsol and a bit of Walnut oil.

I am keeping the paint thin but thick and dry enough so it so it doesnt run.  I want it to stay where I put it.


Initialy I thought I would detail the face before moving on,  but I decided against that. I thought that I would have a better chance at getting the values and temperatures correct on the face if I laid in more of the painting first. This way, later when I work on the face, I can relate my paint application to the rest of the work.   I am trying to lay down an approximate position of the figure, as well as determine my color values and temperatures.

The hands (on her hip and leaning against the table) are beginning to form, as well as her scarf, which will provide a nice compositional element. The pose has some nice lines in it. I am going darker on the background near the bottom.