Painting of a Friend

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9"x12" Canvas Panel

Paints: Most Oil paint sets will do. Some individual colors used here: Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red light, Cobalt Blue, Mars Black, Cadmium Yellow Medium. In terms of brands, I use and like Winsor & Newton.

Synthetic Brushes: Filbert 2, 4, 6; Round 2; Flat 6

I've been happy with the Princeton SNAP series.

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Painted this painting of my friend with oils on a 9”x12” canvas panel. At the time, I still wasn’t confident with my ability to do a portrait and decided to do it in my class where I could get some guidance.  I used an image for reference. Didn't use a grid. Here is my first go at it in my class. 

With a blank canvas, first priority is to cover the canvas, quickly block everything in, while trying to get as many things right as possible, but at the same time not sweating the details. This is what I could get done in less than an hour. 

Given limited time, I was happy with this, but lets examine the most salient pieces can be addressed with more time

V0 - 1 hr or so in class

My second go, looks better in my eyes. Face is a little more symmetrical. Right eyebrow was lowered to more closely match the left.Left eye now also has an eyelid. It is less fat. Lower part of the nose is a rendered a bit more (still a bit of unnatural symmetry). Lips have darker shadows adding more dimension. Eyebrows were darkened. Hair is less flat with more highlights. We also see more detail in the eyes.

Some problems still remain and some were introduced. 

V1 - 3 - 5 hours more

In this version, it looks closer to a "realistic" rendering of the face (despite photo quality). 


But it's still not popping. 

V2 - 3 - 5 more hours

Final version 

Really pushed on darker darks and lighter lights, arriving at something quite striking.

Additionally added a glossy varnish. I find that the varnish makes the surface a little more regular and smooth. This removes the diffuse look you can have without it. Has the additional benefit of protecting your paintings.  

V3 - Final version many more hours later

If you want to start your painting journey, I've put together a list of all my go to supplies to get you started.