View Full Version : First Oil Portrait (WIP)

09-07-2004, 12:35 PM
Hey, Gang:

I ran across some W&N Artisan water-soluble oils on clearance for a buck-fifty this weekend at Hobby Lobby. I'd been wanting to try them out. So this is my first experience with oil painting. I'm a firm believer in public humility.

This is on canvas board, about 9" X 12". Here's where I've gone so far. Critiques, thoughts and suggestions very welcome. And this is cross-posted in Portraits.


09-07-2004, 12:36 PM

09-07-2004, 12:37 PM
And here's where I am right now.


09-07-2004, 05:34 PM
Hey Ted, looking good! Anxious to see it finished.

09-07-2004, 06:35 PM
it's interesting that in starting out...it has a watercolor approach-feel! this is a good 'medium' transfer 4 ya since you did so well w/ the watercolor so fast.
do you find yourself painting very thinly (not much texture//alot of water added)? oh...are there driers you can add to this to speed the drying time?
my only sugg. is to bounce color around even if you don't see it in the photo...or layer glazes so there's a underlying richnesss go'in on. course, it'll be hard to tell here on w.c....uploading just doesn't do stuff justice on here!
look'in good ;)

09-07-2004, 08:11 PM
Yeah, I did start out with the paint very watered down. I've been building up over that to the point of using it without much water, if any. I'm starting to get the likeness, but the physical look of it is pretty awful. Looks flat and you can see the canvas through almost all of it.

I've seen lots of different approaches that artists use. Some just start slapping on the color and virtually mold it into shape... others start with a sketch and underpainting... some with charcoal...

Hardest thing is to let it sit... or set?... and dry. It's an interesting experience, anyway... at least when the kids holler I can put the brush down and not worry about it. And it's easier to fix mistakes than with watercolor.

I'm anxious to see how it turns out as well! I think I'm getting a likeness on one side of the face. If I can't get it on the other side, maybe I'll do some creative framing.


09-08-2004, 10:11 AM
there are so many diff. methods. one way to force yourself to build up is to do it the flemish way via impretur(uh, not sure on the spelling). it's doing a one-tone undervalue which also helps est. value a little earlier on also. got an ex. of using the tech. here: http://www.hbwservices.com/id127.htm
of course...you'd use something like a brownish green (an opposite of fleshtone...which after layered over gives that suggestive depth & you can sense veins beneath the surface & such). after doing the impretur, (i used reg. oils & turpentine)ya got to let that set a while.
there are some that do a very mulitfaceted layering approach where they use an umber...then wash over next w/ a red tone, then green ect...if you find yourself to be a thin painter. it's not bad to paint thinly...you don't have to force yourself to paint thick if it doesn't feel right...you just have to make it work for You. one thing i can suggest...if the canvas is grossing you out...is to go w/ a gessoed panel next time. that's what i used for 'harvested blessings' & loved the way the paint moves easily on the surface. in fact, i find it easier to paint thicker on panel than on canvas. i think the texture of the canvas tempts me to go 'dry-brush mode'.
you've got the likeness...it's just whack w/ how the photo came out...if you divide the photo look at the left side then look at the right...the way the lighting messed w/ his eyes...it just looks like 2 diff. photos put together. maybe it's a matter of making one half match the other (minimize the glare in the rt. eye?). i don't know...that one is a pickle.
again...you're picking up on the medium end really fast....keep exploring ;)

09-09-2004, 09:41 AM
Thanks, Jen... those are some helpful things to consider. I plan on employing some of them. Next painting I will probably try a particular technique instead of just going at it willy-nilly. Just wanted to get the feel of the paints this time, I guess.

I wasn't happy with where this was heading. I was painting too cautiously, which was the opposite of what originally got me interested in using oils. So I piled on the paint and changed some things and tried to make it a little more dynamic. Now I'll start reworking and try to get some better details.

I'm going to have to get my little boy to sit for me, which will be difficult but necessary. I asked him to smile yesterday so I could study his face a little, and it kept erupting into America's Funniest Faces. Maybe with a little bribery...


09-09-2004, 01:05 PM
Ted, I think, your going in the right direction. It was a bit static at first, I like that you are trying to make it more dynamic.

As a side note, Americas Funniest Faces, would be a great series to produce! Lots of wonderful subject matter for paintings! More whimsical than formal, or whimsical done in a formal manner! Just thinking out loud......

09-11-2004, 08:11 PM
Well, I'm not really sure where to go from here. If I keep going, I'm either going to make it look great or ruin it. Whenever I try to smooth things out on the face, it just loses its features. I've got dry spots, wet spots, and never the twain shall meet. Whatever that means :)

Anyways, any suggestions at this point are welcome.


09-13-2004, 05:24 AM
Ted, for your first oil piece, WOW! I've still only touched acrylics myself.

09-13-2004, 08:22 AM
If your interested in smoothing together the features without necissarily blending too much stuff together, try getting a few nice puffy watercolour brushes. I use them try brush and gently "fluff" the paint around to ake it blend nicely together.

What materials have you been using? Have you been thinning the paint with anything, if so what?

I've never used water-soluable oils but I can tell you that it took me a while (and is still taking me time) to learn how to use the paint. My first painting looked like watercolour too from thinning way too much and using such fluid paint. I know now that the key to getting tones is laying out on your pallet your paints and mixing various degrees of colour on the pallet, so its all there whenever you need it for slight variations instead of blending directly onto the canvas which can be difficult if you want the paint to not become mud. I also use tools other than brushes too, to work the paint, like knives and colourshapers.

On another note, perhaps next time you'd try laying down your primay layer of colour in acrylics. It'll make it easier to fill in the colour then go overtop with oils because you'll haave a better idea of how to put the oils on and where everything goes. Also, if you do that instead of white canvas showing through, you'll have your base colour - less noticable.

Just some ideas to think about. I'mma off now to school to see if I cant drop my painting course for a drawing studio instead. heh. So I guess I have no right to be telling anyone how to paint LOL

09-13-2004, 05:54 PM
I used a lot of water at first but then eventually quit using anything. Right now I'm unsure of whether or not I can create what you guys call a "glaze" with water or whether I need to use a traditional medium for it to be effective.

Those are some good things to think about, and I've picked up a lot of tips to try out as I become the next Norman Rockwell :D

One thing, I've noticed, and then later read, that these oils require a firmer brush for blending and whatnot. I've read good things about some folks who use nylon brushes. I have a hard time doing anything with these paints unless I'm using a flat or angled brush... and I definitely need to get some filberts. Is that right? Filberts? And I thought oil painting was dry and boring. :p

09-13-2004, 09:00 PM
lol if your trying to do oil painting with soft watercolour-like brushes your completely waisting your time! Unless your using them for very fluid, medium-upped paint then you need some nice hard-bristled brushes to push around the thick paint==============\\\\\\\ (says the cat). The shape of your brush depends on what lines you want to achieve, but i'd recomment a filbert for its nice, rounded-out end, i find it personally that it makes very pleasing marks.

If you are concerned with the toxicity of regular oil paints, there are ways to make the effect minimal. A friend of mine and wetcanvas member oil paints amazingly and he uses no solvents at all. All thinning is done with different oils and mediums, and as for cleaning the brushes he reccomends simply working out the paint as much as possible in a papertowel, and then washing them with soap. I always use shampoo and water to clean out my oil brushes, it seams to keep the bristles nicer. Also, if you'd still like solvents to clean you brushes, it is possible to get non-toxic, non-oder solvents. I have a small bottle here, it works amazing and is nontoxxic/non flammable and does the job wonderfully. The paints themselves dont seam have much of an oder, just the smell of linseed oil. But yeah, you should try painting with oils sometimes. You might really enjoy it. Some of my best easliest memories doing art include painting with my dad in my little crappy tempera paints, while he went at it in oils :D