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Entries in oil paint (4)


Painting the Blue-Grey Tanager

When I started working on my pieces for the 12x12 Art Show & Silent Auction, I knew I wanted to paint a Nicaraguan bird.  Luckily, Nicaragua is home to 698 different bird species!  I decided on a Blue-Grey Tanager, which is found throughout Central America.  In a previous post that explains this charity art show I had promised a tutorial for this piece, here it is! You can read more about this charity art show on my Hope Comes in Color Post.

I used oil paint for this piece so that I was able to layer paint and create a "feathered" look.   I started by sketching a basic outline of the bird.

The next step is to go in with your dark paints and start to build the contours and crevices.  Now you might be saying "wait, I thought this was a blue bird?". That is the beauty of painting with oils! By starting with these dark colors we are going to build layers that add depth and shadows.
If you are using a reference photo, make note of the darkest areas.  Think of your painting as a "color by number".  Don't be afraid if your painting looks too dark, we will lighten it later. You will have to let this layer dry before going in with your blue paints. Oil paint takes much longer to dry than acrylic, it might take a few days before you are ready to paint again.
Once your base layer is dry it's time to add your primary color layers.  Because oil paint is transparent, you will find that your dark areas stay dark! Again, think of the color by numbers, use darker blue for the areas of contour, and lighter colors for highlights.
 For the branch, I alternated long and short brush strokes and different browns, black, and white paint.
 Our little bird is starting to look like a Tanager!
I knew I wanted a basic background.  I chose a green wash.  By mixing green and white on your palette and adding some turpentine, your paint will "wash" onto the canvas.
I continued to go back and add highlights in white.  One of the most drastic highlights you can add is a simple dot of white in the eye. You will be amazed how much life it brings to your piece!
 Close up of the face

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I would love any feedback!



Painting Baby Ben

Recently, I have been really into giving art as gifts for special occasions.  So when my college roommate had her first baby, I knew I wanted to paint her something for mother's day.  What better subject to paint than her beautiful baby boy!

I thought I would share a tutorial for this painting.  I really enjoyed the process.  I used oil paints for this portrait so it took a LONG time (about a year all together). I used their announcement card as a reference photo.

The early photos are pretty poor quality, so bear with me.

Once I had a sketch down on the canvas I started filling in color.  By placing dark colors down early, I was able to build the shadows and details.

 At this point I really start going in with dark colors to highlight the shadows.  Pay attention to all the nooks and crannies! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Don't be afraid to go too dark with oil paint! You can always lighten it by layering. That's the beauty of the medium.

I chose to use a thinning medium to change the consistency of the paint as the face progressed.  I use Turpentine. The Winsor & Newton Oil Painting Solvents are affordable and effective.  You can find them at your local craft store or Dick Blick online.

Thinning mediums (like Turpentine) are solvents that are mixed with oil paints to change the consistency. Basically changing the paint from fat to thin.  When you see oil paints that are glossy and shiny, chances are the paint was mixed with a thinner.

For the hair, I used a fan brush like this Royal Langnickel Sofia Fan from Dick Blick.

 This type of brush allows you to "fan" color on to the canvas, while creating a hair texture.

Here are some close-ups:

I went to Michaels to have this little guy framed. Their custom framing department is always helpful and they have a decent selection of frames and mouldings.

It was so special to give this portrait to my friend and hear now 2 year old Bennett point and say "that's Bennett!"



Dog Portrait Tutorial

I was recently commissioned to do a portrait of an adorable pup named Fergus.  I thought I would share the progress as Fergus' portrait comes to life!
This is the photo I received as reference:

First, I made a pot of coffee. After staring a the photos and making a plan of attack, I started by creating a line sketch on tracing paper. I liked the ears from another reference photo so I sketched those. 
 I like using graphite transfer paper to get my sketch onto my canvas.  By using graphite paper you only have to sketch once, and you don't have to worry about erasing on the canvas.  I like Sally's Graphite paper

Once the sketch is on the canvas, I start by using my dark colors.  You can always lighten oil paints because they are transparent.

 Continue to build the dark areas and blend lighter colors as you go.
 Once a base was down, I went back with heavier dark colors to build shadows and contours
 Blend. Blend. Blend.
 Once we get to this point it's time to stop until it dries.  By letting this paint dry, we can layer paint on top, without having it blend. Oil paints take about 4-6 days to dry, depending on the moisture in the air.  Oils take even longer if you use a thinning medium such as Turpentine (1-2 weeks!).

 Once he's dry we can go back to adding darks to the nose/mouth

Painting eyes can be very scary. It's all about layers! Start with the basics, black pupil, brown iris, reflection highlights. Around the eyes, this little guy has dark fur. Add it. It will look really dark and awkward but remember we blend and layer everything!

 Adding darks around the nose/mouth
 Reference check! Notice how light his face is in the picture? We will get there, but we start dark and work towards the light.  Before we finish, a fluffy brush can help soften all the colors. I can't do more to the face until it dries (4-6 days) so on the the body!
 Don't forget the bandanna!
 Starting to bring in the whites in the face

With the basic colors of the body and bandana down, it's time once again to let him dry.

 After 2 weeks of drying, I went back to start lightening his face and body.  Don't be afraid to be aggressive with the paint, you will need to blend it anyways! My client sent me several photos and wanted to "blend" the looks.  When all is done, the painting will not be as light as the photo.

Adding the darks around the eyes was a challenge. I used a fine brush to add lines of color and then blended it with a feathery brush.

 Next step was to work on the nose.
 Use white to add the "wet nose" look

 Almost done! just have to finish the background, lighten his face a little more, and add details (whiskers, hair detail, finish bandanna).

 Some close-ups:


Fred the Rooster

Hello again!
I thought I'd share a portrait I did of an unlikely subject! A rooster! Painting portraits does not have to be limited to humans.  How many fuzzy/feathery faces have you seen that you would like to capture?
A dear friend of mine has chickens.  Among her flock is a hard-headed rooster named Fred.  This cocky rooster (pun intended) has quite the personality. So when my friend got engaged I knew I wanted to give them a painting as an engagement gift.  Who better to paint than the boss of their household, Fred!

Because I wanted to be able to layer the paint to add texture to the feathers and wattle (who knew that dangling thing was called a wattle?!), I started with the dark tones. Once I had the darks down, I started adding lights and layers. The feathers were the hardest part. By alternating shades and using coarse and fine/feathery brushes, the texture began to develop.
Smoothing, blending, and adding highlights.

 Fred the rooster deserves to be the star of the show, so I chose a blended color background.  Once the painting was dry, all he needed was a gaudy frame and a signature!

- M.