How to Oil Paint a Portrait


hello my name is Hollis Dunlap I’m an
American realist painter from Connecticut throughout my career the
major focus of my work has been the figure new masters Academy invited me
here to show you my approach to painting the figure from life and if you’ll join
me you can watch and learn as I paint two pieces from start to finish I’ll
start with a description of the materials that I use and why I use them
throughout the process I’ll do my best to explain every color choice of brush
mark as I refine the painting over time my preference is to work from natural
light which will allow us to study the color in a naturalistic way we carefully
consider the colors and the surrounding space and the effect that they had on
the model I hope that by watching this you’ll learn some things that will
benefit your own process you can follow along as I refine the drawing in color
as we go I’m just trying to think of the simplest representation of the figure I
can do I hope that over the course of the video you’ll learn some things that
will help you paint the figure more confidently and more effectively thank
you for joining me and let’s get started you okay welcome back everybody I’d like to
introduce JJ is gonna sit in position and I’m gonna pose him a little bit here
I don’t use different colors or paints for landscapes or still life or figure I
use the same palette for everything and I think that’s important because it you
know lets you focus on the actual painting and not worry about materials
too much so let me just take a look at him here
you comfortable JJ I’m gonna I’m gonna tape you I think if if that’s alright
just so we can get back it looks great big production here I’ll take the foot
even though even though I’m not really gonna paint your feet I’ll tape them
anyway that’s good to tape every part of the pose hopefully this is reasonably
comfortable similarly with the other pose that I did I want to pose that
simple enough for the model you know if he needs a cushion you always ask the
model if they need anything like that yeah a cup of coffee whatever it works I
need two cups today um let’s see here get the foot here I’m just gonna get
your hand here too not sure how far I’ll get on the hands
but we’ll see really with the most thing I’m concerned with today is the angle
with his head anyway but I’m just gonna tape this cushion onto the now I do this
kind of tape the cushion onto that chair well that probably won’t really work but
hiding behind the chair in the camera I think that’s fine alrighty then
so I’m gonna get going here I’m just gonna
as usual I want to start the composition with a little bit of drawing just to
kind of map out map things out a bit here
my usual ultramarine blue if I was you know really I’d like to get his hands in
there too but so angle from heads to his waist to his hand to the other hand I’m
kind of drawing an envelope of the whole pose here but I’m gonna kind of focus in
on his head a bit today let’s see how big can the head be on this canvas this
is a sixteen by twenty board which is kind of a big one for a one-day thing
but I’m gonna go with it one two three and a half heads or so to the bottom of
that hand one two three but the head can be about that size we’re gonna go with
it see what happens here back of his head top of his head four heads the
centerline centerline of the head is important to me what I used for a
references if you had to tie a string from right between the eyebrows to the
middle of the chin pretend II didn’t have a nose so it’s not a curve it’s a
straight line from here to the chin what that does is it gives you the position
of the skull in space so whatever position you’re gonna do you want to
find that that centerline I’m so in this case has headed straight up and down so
it’s a vertical line from his eyebrows down to his chin so I could let’s see
here um put it’s on back there I may I may move the head down a little bit I
want to make sure I don’t get too close to the top here let’s see so let’s say
it’s chin this here jawbone centerline back of the skull just a very kind of
rudimentary skull shape where I’m thinking cranium versus jaw
I’m very simplified I think at the neck like a cylinder so this is about the
simplest representation of a head you could possibly do see here using this
thinning it out with a gamsol as usual let’s see all right so that’s that angle
of that Center and the other thing the center line does is it shows you how
much you see of each side of the head so I’m dividing his head into like how much
I see at the right and left side we see much more of his right side very little
at the left so I’m gonna try to to show that and the center line shows that the
turn of the head in space so that’s what I’m using that for it’s just far I
socket there center line – eye sockets how big is this eye so I can now the
eyes generally not the eyebrows or islet not the eye brows but the actual eyes
are about in the middle of the total length of the head so if this is the
length of his his skull I want the eyes to be right about in the middle there let’s see here and I’m just
approximating it in me it may vary in size a bit as I go but we’ll see what
happens there let’s see back of his skull neck I’m gonna make that a little
smaller as I go I don’t want to go too big I love to get those hands as you can
see I’ve already got a much better much bigger head then I started with but
let’s see here I can I can make it a little smaller as I go I think use a
piece of a paper towel here to pull out the lights a bit let’s see yeah there’s nose is gonna be about
their chins gonna be a little shorter so let’s see here
this is background so the background is darker than the back of his head and
that’s important what I want to do is use that background to get a more
sculptural sense on this head so I’m gonna take just an overall I’m gonna
pretend like just one color for all of his lights maybe I’ll use blue burnt
sienna and white for that too just a little more on the burnt sienna so that
I can get a warmer tone for his skin generalized tone here put it all put it
everywhere again I’m going for the simplest possible representation of a
head I’m gonna make his head a little smaller I did say I was gonna try to get
his hands on there there we go he’s in the background here covering all the
white let’s see now there’s an interesting
thing happening with the background so we’ve got the lights set up in such a
way that the left side of his head isn’t light the right side is in shadow and
the background as the background turns from left to right it gets lighter on
this side so that’s a really important thing is the way that the background
goes from dark on the left side to light on the right side so what you have is
dark light dark then light in the background if you look at classical
portraits but someone like Rembrandt will do this a lot he’ll use the lighter
side of the background over here to set up the shadow side of the model so again
his shadow side there’s a speed painting hair shadow side is here that’s gonna be
his nose and his mouth is in there really really simplified but so we’re
creating we’re trying to create that sense of light by using the background
next to his shadow side eye socket the nose so I’m lightening that area there really thinning this out still have to
make the head a little smaller as I go it’s probably gonna get a little smaller
let’s see cuz if I really wanted to get his right hand in there mm I’m pushing
it with that size head so I’d probably want to make it a little smaller or just
convenient because usually my heads get a little smaller as I go anyway if
anybody watched that last video I did the head change size about 25 times it
happens so I’m gonna make this head I mean use that background it kind of
carve away here a little I stock it is no is it gonna end there see all right
Wow there’s this you’re gonna be I love that
shadow on his ear I love that shape eye socket he’s got some incredible colors
in his skin hopefully I’ll be able to get those in as I go here so cheek bone let’s use the same color for all of the
darks blue burnt sienna not much white at this
point I need a nice dark to really get these shadows in so now that’s their chin let’s see Wow that’s his draw shape go right into the
background again let’s see how dark here I want to really get that form turning
around in his head let’s get his nose a little defined I want to get that size
I’m sure the size is gonna take some revision here but I think we can get
that the shadow under his nose all right where was I here all right now the cool
thing with him literally the cool thing is he’s got warm skin but cool
highlights so similar to the way natural light works in other words his so his
skin has this beautiful warmth to it like this color but the highlights are
cool so the highlight I can use a color like this or maybe a violet in there
that was a kind of yellow-green but maybe it’s violet but the point here the
whole exciting thing here is the color of the highlights is not the same as the
color of his skin so his skin is one color the color of
the light is something else and that’s the universal thing that harmonizes
everything in a painting is the same color of light is hitting everything at
least that’s my idea for this painting so I’m using the color of the light that
influences his skin tone now I’m going to go back to the initial warm color of
his skin just kind of block in that a bit all right JJ okay okay
always gotta you know you when you’re painting you can get desperate when
you’re working fast and you forget to ask the model if they’re reasonably
comfortable so yeah just walking in a few things here that’s a lot of red I’m gonna basically
I’m gonna try to keep his head straight up and down so if I see him tilting it
all I’ll move him it’s pretty close now I got no excuses I got to do a good job
on this one getting a little more color at the top of his head I can really see
that a little more red that’s a little too much go back to that speed painting
it’s kind of crazy I’m all right where was I gonna make that nose a little
smaller mm-hmm I need to make the whole head a
little smaller so I’m gonna I’m alright with reducing the size here a bit eye
sockets are very big there’s a cast shadow here anyway but amazing shape
there let’s see um go into the background again kind of carve away at
the proportion a little here remember that the lighter tone on the background
on this side is what helps me set up the main contrast so let’s see where I want
his nose just taking a little off there so
foreshortening they had a little more like how much am i showing of that left
side of his head I don’t want to show too much over there because then you
lose that sense of 3d space space is the key you want to have a good sense of
space in the painting there’s the bottom of his mouth let’s see here get that
shadow in its mustache maybe his mustache well maybe it’s the same color
as this well it just for now at least it’s definitely gonna be lighter than
that right let’s see lower lip and his chin so I’m bringing him in there a
little bit and as I’m doing that I’m making the head a little smaller just so
that we can get the composition we want again we’re going in here let’s see how
high is his ears yours higher than I have it compared to his his eye eyebrow
so the ear actually comes up to about here so moving that upwards a little a
little more red in the shadow of the ear back into his light skin tone here
doesn’t go lower than that so yeah that’s the more better ear position
there’s violets in his skin that I love as well I really want to get those go
after all that – let’s hit those colors in his beard and mustache a little bit
better a little whiter than I had it that’s too light take it – on that one mustache weird beard beard again a
little in the shirt moving the colors around a bit here size of his eye socket
adjusting that a bit it was so eyelids eyelids gonna be there
oh man there’s so much to do in there working very fast because I have to and
it’s good to be able to do that it’s not necessarily the best thing but it’s good
to be able to work fast because if you want to be able to get a painting done
if you don’t have a 30 hour pose I think that’s practical you know it’s wonderful
to have that much time but if you don’t it’s possible to still do a painting
let’s say yeah all right JJ okay if you need to move just tell me we can always
you know whatever and always take a break let’s see here let’s see a lot of
colors in here now I’m not being too picky about getting the exact right
color yet I do want them to be exact but you know this is the first pose I’m just
trying to get the basic proportions in here there’s collars gonna be like in
there all of this really thin this out oh this is shadow still need to make his head a little
smaller to fit that hand in okay that would be a break sure you can move thank
you we’re going to take a little break I’m
going to clean my brushes and try to organize my brain we’ll be back in five
minutes let’s get back to it here and go right back into the head and work on the
proportion I’m not as particular about the body position when I’m doing more
sort of a focus on the head but we’ll see if I can get it pretty much similar
here all right great just turn your head to the right a tiny
bit towards me like that that’s great now back a little bit away again that
way yeah that’s very close just a little bit more that’s perfect close enough I’m
picky about it sometimes I move the model too much and then I have to move
him back as long as they don’t get tired of me or good thank you as long as your
model doesn’t run for the door then that’s progress sometimes okay let’s see
proportion of the skull as usual I want to make him a little smaller because
even if I don’t finish the hands I’d like to at least get the sense of the
whole composition they’re an artist that I love to look at for inspiration is dig
he did a lot of beautiful you know I wouldn’t say half finished but maybe
it’s not completely evenly finished on the whole painting but he’s you still
get that sense of the whole composition and that’s important I think that I
don’t want it to be obvious that the head is my main area of interest I’d
like to get the composition itself to be good all right so there we go using that background tone to set up the
light so it’s all about getting this in relation to that the dark background
white skin let’s see here okay size of the head I don’t want them to be too big
so I am going to be making his jaw a little smaller underside there of this
chin it’s where his shoulders gonna be
roughly I really just cover this area I know that none of that’s gonna be white okay go right into the nose here using
warm darks red and blue and these darker areas get that cast shadow kind of
coming across his nose all the same colors in the duck in the docks here
burnt sienna and blue my favorite let’s just work on the foreshortening of that
head and what I’m doing is I’m conscious that the head is probably gonna get a
little smaller as I go and that should help my composition here as we do that go a little smaller up here excuse me bring up his bring up his mustache a
little so I don’t make the shadow and under his nose too big I want to get the form to kind of turn
here so I’m putting in some half-tones some darker tones here just so I get
that sculptural sense on the head essentially I’m doing a flat sculpture
that’s the way I think of it I wanted to look 3d I’m aware that I’m working on a
flat surface but I want it to look 3d I think that’s exciting when the 3d
quality starts to emerge in the painting it’s fun all right where was I
cleaning off my light brush which I got a bunch of dark paint on bad painting
habit but that’s okay nobody’s perfect right well some people seem to have
perfect technique I just kind of the only advantage I have is that I’m
willing to redo it a dozen times if I need to I don’t know if that’s an
advantage maybe it’s maybe it’s just insanity I don’t know I’m just
alright so putting in his nose getting some reds in the shadow here I love that
color mmm-hmm all right his mouth let’s get
that shape again chin so this is gonna get smaller this distance from beard so
that means all this is gonna get a little smaller as well and if the
painting needs that I need to to really get that in so let’s work on the overall
size of his head’s it’s gonna get a little bit smaller just so I can fit in
the composition the way that I want that’s as eyebrow there’s a beautiful
pool light on his temple just throw that in there it’s almost a purple color I
love that color right about there okay now let’s look at his eye like
where’s eyeball is it’s like a little marble inside the eye socket I want to
hint at that shape right here so we get that kind of overall peace of light on
the size side of the eyeball side of the eye socket here so the eyelids and the
eyeball I’m just positioning that round form right in there and then that allows
me to maybe bring down the temple a little more here let’s just see I’m kind
of shaping the bone points in there to get the zygomatic in there so I go Matic vertical line right there just to start
getting the cheekbones in now as you can see I made that smaller this is really
big right now I’m gonna fix that but the head was too big to get the hand
in anyway so I’m gonna make it a little smaller
let’s see darkening this skin a little bit in here that’s too dark all those highlights are gonna come down
a little bit as I go let’s dot in his beard a little bit just
so I can kind of I can use that to map things out a little bit to here like
that piece of a light that’s right there all right oops green beard a little too
green Bluebeard green beard purple psychedelic everything’s in there rainbow beard the title of this painting all right yes
his eyelid is gonna be there let’s see no before I get too much more detail I
want to really start looking at the main position of the skull and bringing his
ear up everything on this left side is gonna come this way a little bit warm
skin cool highlights sorry that’s the theme it’s our kind of theme here and I
want to get that you’re positioned right I know it right now it’s very big so I
want to move that over a little bit again are using the background but just
got to do one thing at a time here could you raise your chin a tiny bit okay yeah
thank you beautiful awesome um there was I use
this background again I gotta get this angle Wow let’s see where’s the ear
gonna be I’m laughing at my own weird proportions here let’s see ear lobe is a
little lower than I got it let’s just raised it up and now I’m gonna lower it
let’s see your lobe just about straight over from there
warm dark in the earlobe beginning of the painting is the easy part the hard
part is when you get into it you got to start really fiddling around with your
edges and proportions bringing that all in remember the top of his ear that’s
all so that’s gonna come down a little so or a lot or it’s gonna come down a
lot that’s see a huge ear now everything’s gonna look a little weird
for a second here while I fix it but that’s all going towards the same goal
to get his proportion right all right now no it starts shaping the back of his
head bring it in there ah getting there do-do-do-do do-do-do-do do-do-do-do-do
yeah all right back of his neck and I don’t
quite know if I have the right size there yet that’s all right we’re close
but it’s still a little bit off a little darker there this I’m gonna get those cools in there warms
and cools want them all to dark all right and looking at that proportion
here it’s gonna take a few tries I can tell just to get in his head just wear
the size I want it there’s an interesting spot right here
where the background in his head can connect where the as the background gets
from dark to light he goes from light to dark and there’s a midpoint right in
here where the values would merge it’s kind of a cool thing you can lose that
edge all right there I may have to repaint that a few times
but that’s I think kind of fun there’s this spot where you can’t really
distinguish the two because the values become the same everybody hopefully
knows what I mean by value that’s just light or dark a light value versus dark
value you probably all know that but let’s see here there’s nothing to do
with the actual value of the painting valuable painting I don’t know
raise your chin just a tiny bit JJ is that okay
look up a little more yeah that’s great thanks man appreciate it all right what
was I doing still looking at proportion here I still think I have his neck very
thick looking now I can change that so like if I look at his if I look at the
nose the neck and his neck is in there so that’s what that cylinder the neck is
I can see a little piece of the color of this shirt on here there’s a great green
color in that collar maybe I’ll try to get it really quickly it’s all the way
up here but I is there’s a spot where they call up the
collar is sitting off the light on his neck and I want to get that as well so
let’s look at that tone in here now I can still make him thinner let’s try to
at least get that before the end of this break I’d like to to get the right size
of his neck everything goes together so sometimes
getting the right size neck means you got to get the right size eye socket
because all of the stuff that’s happening over here influences what’s
happening on the left too so I want to get all that yeah still bringing in the skull a
little bit here getting closer I think but still not quite there overall
proportion of the skulls what I’m looking for that length there I have a
very big ear right now and I might want to make that ear a little smaller as we
go top of the ear is it there I think that’s a little better overall ear size
a little funky in the shape there I’m gonna switch that out we’ll fix that
eventually here get the Reds in here so that highlight that I had in here is
gonna come lower to put that in again cool highlight again that crazy cool
highlight Blues in there blues reds yellows I see a lot of blue or right
there and that one kind of comes right down through the side of the skull maybe
it’s more violet towards the back I don’t know yet for sure but can always
change that as we go if I think I see a color I like to put it in it just might
look great it might not but it’s worth trying if you think you see something
put it in and see it probably is there cuz the way color works there’s a
spectrum of color everything’s bouncing around the room
so there’s a lot of different things that are affecting his coloring I want
to get them all I want to show that influence of the environment in the
figure you know there’s a little piece of a blue highlight on his nose so his
nose is warm around here but there’s a blue violet highlight on his nose coming
from our light source so I think that’s interesting that’s how you have that’s
how you have good color you don’t do too much of the local color in other words
the color of the object itself is not the real important thing it’s two things
it’s the local color combined with the color of your light source so figure out
what your light source is that’s what you want to think about if I move him
into it like it move him outside it’s gonna look different wherever we put him will influence that color I love that
eye socket we really want to get that and let’s just knock down a few areas
that I have that are too light like this on this cheek here I’m gonna take my
little blender brush and just simplify the shape in here a bit just bring that
all together and I’ll repaint it afterwards I still have to get the get
his head a little thinner all right let’s take a break
thank you very much back in five empower your creativity with the
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today at n ma rd all right ready to get back to it here
thanks JJ I’ve modeled for a couple friends and I did not like it sitting
still is not my strong point as you can probably tell him all over the place
here all right great perfect all right let’s see let me get
right back into the shape of his skull still working on this area here and make
him a little smaller in there and I’m gonna cool off the tone a little bit
there’s still a little of that light hitting the back of his neck it’s a
little cooler the values are so subtle in there I’m trying to think of his head
and like a round sculpture jaw bone into the ear kind of drawing a
little bit here just so when I say drawing I’m using the corner of the
brush just to position the ear a little bit better I want to get that and you
have to get the distance from the the ear to the front of the face you’re
gonna get that distance right or at least close at least close let’s see
back of his ear I’m sure I’ll have to move it a couple times but I still feel
like he’s a little big here so I’m gonna make the skull a little smaller I’m
gradually coming in I really want to get that I got that
just right okay it’s a little better almost there it’s closer okay so that
size should allow me to get his hand in there let’s just see if let’s just
pretend that that was the final size here here’s a shoulder so shoulders
basically straight from one of the shoulder blades or the acromion one side
to the other and you’ve got the humerus and the lower arm I want the hands to be
there so just thinning this out really broad brush marks just to really
simplify nothing’s white down there so I can
cover that too but ultimately and he’s got a really great kind of gray red
color in the sweater so I’d like to get that eventually to if I have time but
you know since I have a color like this I used this this is the gray red tone I
could put that essentially the lights should connect through this entire side then you’ve got and it is a light on his
hand which is gonna be somewhere in that area a little warmer than that but yeah
another hand their leg there the background on that side remember we had
talked about this being lighter so it gradually shifts so there’s the darker
side of the background over here shifting to the lighter background on
the right so the idea idea here is dark light dark
light so dark background light side of his head
shadow side of his head light background so dark light dark light look at
Rembrandt’s paintings see how many times he’ll add a little bit of light on the
wall behind the shadow side of his painting it’s fairly common if you look
at kind of classic portraiture not not everyone does it but room painters that
are really concerned with light do it so I think his knees gonna be about
there not positive yet I’m gonna try to minimize the chaotic effect of all the
pieces of light coming through the background don’t want too much going on
there but let’s go back to the skull now just wanted to give the background a
little attention so still working on the top of his head here I want to get that
distance right don’t want a skull to be too big for the face all right whenever
you have a color on the brush see if you can put it in the figure anywhere maybe
this background color is the good color for the white of his I know maybe maybe
so maybe not no no tried it out let’s work with the darks around that again
let’s see so the iris there’s the dot of dark on that in that where I think
that’s gonna be right about there somewhere using the corner of this brush
for the small mark so remember the idea is to use a the same brush in different
ways I think that’s a good good thing to practice as I work on the proportions
and then in the head I should be able to get the back of his skull in better
proportion I just need to add a little more detail here I have this chin chin a little bit too
big I think I say I think I’m never sure I’m pretty sure that 95% sure something
like that well we’ll see let’s go into the background again right
here the background connects with his beard same value it’s kind of
interesting you might not be doing that in a minute but for now it is using the
negative space to to draw let’s see back into the shadow side of his head it’s just a temple over here I can see
that round off the tip of his nose a little bit there’s so many little
details and you really have to just pick the important things you can’t get too
caught up in things that don’t necessarily matter it’s not that not
easy to figure out sometimes it takes some some adjustment you really use this brush for the first
time go into the nose here when I get that piece of a light here a little bit
better alright I’m sure that the size of his head is gonna change again after I
add these details and that’s just a natural thing it happens late on his
cheek you keep adjusting it well okay with this head getting a
little smaller because that’s gonna mean the bottom I think it’ll be a little bit
better composition if the heads just a little bit smaller you’ll see about that
but it’s cheekbone again that’s a bit too dark don’t blend with this brush again a
little bit I take out I want to take out information that I don’t need the whole thing I want to get here is
that sense of three dimensions of the light traveling across the form from
left to right I’m just using a paper towel and kind of
getting the xxxx excess paint off onto it just to simplify things sometimes you
get a knock down that paint surface a little it gets a little too complicated
so sometimes it’s necessary to do that now I got to make is ear smaller let’s
do that I really want to give them a big ear I don’t know what it is not doing
that bringing the ear this way let’s just put
a vertical mark or the ear or I think it is going to be now I think that’s a
little bit better somewhere there mm-hmm it’s close to see
here so of course that means that the other side has to come in too working on it get that there’s a
beautiful deep red inside the ear I love that color and get that in there that’s
a little better all right as I move in the ear I can
make his neck a little thinner like I really should just look at the
proportion of his neck right now let’s just say what should it be
and I think of the neck as a cylinder you know then you get the sternomastoid
coming down you get the collar bones in front trapezius behind there’s about a
dozen other muscles in there but I just want to get that width of a neck just
get that right don’t worry about the other stuff there’s a vertical area
right there in the neck almost like a straight up and down see here now I’m gonna bring the top of
his head down a little bit I’m really careful now I don’t want to go too far
but I can tell I’m too big so I think I’m alright to do this background how much look at the overall
shape of his skull he’s kind of he’s elongated this way so I want to get that
character that he has that’s close close but still not quite
there how high up does this collar come about there there is that I guess I can
show a little of that that nice green color in there it’s pretty it’s not that
green though it ain’t that green it is a little more blue not that anyone would
ever know his collar could be any color it could be purple we could do that if
we want do whatever you want all right when I get a little more cool color on
the back of his head here I’m not quite sure about the size of the skull but I’m well I’m I’m a little more sure about it
so I can add a little more shape in there and as the head turns it gets a little
darker I’m adding a little more red into this area whoops too dark do that again
stilts you doc take three there you know that kind of goes around there the main
thing I want with this head is I wanted to look three-dimensional even if it’s
if it’s not finished it should still look good that’s I think the good thing
to shoot for if you’re painting is that even your initial block in should look
good that’s part of kind of taking responsibility for your painting
I say this a lot in class but how many times do I hear students say oh I could
do it if I just had more time if I just had more time but once you know about
composition just how to set up the pose the painting should have a professional
feel to it in other words there’s a professional way to do a block in a
professional way to do the middle parts and a professional way to finish it and
I think it’s good to take responsibility for each of those things you know
eventually yeah you got to do that you might not have 30 hours to do a painting
especially like me I was in art school but then I got out of art school I
didn’t have that much time anymore so I would you know try to convince a friend
to model for me and maybe they could only come for 2-3 hours so it’s nice to
be able to get something out of that you know you can always use a photo but it’s
different you know working from a photo for me never quite feels it’s just to me
I like working from a photo as well but to me it’s a different thing than
working from life it doesn’t feel quite as much like true painting to me it
feels like it’s something else but I know I mean there’s so many good
painters that work from photos now it’s kind of silly to say well it’s kind of
not legitimate or something I think it is but I also understand what’s the more
difficult thing to do and painting from life is much more
difficult I think for me the painters I want to study with are people that can
work from life well anyway that’s the timer so we’re going to take a break
back in five alright I’m gonna get back to it here
back to the head again I’m still working on the proportions a bit it seems maybe
a bit a little big in the top of the skull but maybe not it might be okay I
think it’s kind of interesting it’s like the connection of this almost look makes
him look like a judge or this robe you know since I’ve connected all the shape
there’s it was kind of interesting thing all right
great all right let’s see here when I move your head a little bit could just
tilt like this way a little bit like that let me check that little
adjustments that’s great thank you all right always good there’s three things
in your position in the head that come in handy it’s the tilt or side to side
like this the turn of the head and the height of the chin so those three things
and you want to try to be clear with the model which one of those to do so tilt
turn and the height of the chin those three things I always kind of use all
right let’s see into the background again just take this down a little and
go too far it’s gonna take the top of his head down
a bit as well still seems too big here it’s not a lot but it is there so I’m
just gonna work on that just that little just trying to look at
this this proportion hmm still gonna thin out his head a bit
here getting closer I’m bringing his ear again a little not
by much but that little bit should help all right
gradually making smaller and smaller adjustments here it’s all the smaller you almost got his
head down to its final size here all right let’s see get them there into
the background I want this edge to be fairly sharp back
here the sharpness of this edge I can always soften it a little after if I
have time I may do that we’ll see if I have time I’ve put in a few shadows on
the robe really quickly as we go here there’s a lot to paint so just call her tip of his collar is he here so I love these folds on the front of his
his shirt the way this really flows don’t want to go too dark there like a
deep gray red actually what I want here sometimes I go a little darker in the
beginning then I lighten it up later if I have time just to be just so I’m
simplifying this still shows a little his shin area
is not quite the right shape let’s try to improve that a little this angle here let’s see sometimes it’s hard to see so you have
to move things around a little to really get it there’s this chief on ok size of his
nose don’t want to go too big they’re just gonna get it all the work ok there’s always a point where there’s
some difficult adjustments that have to be made the further you get into the
painting the more likely that is to happen you know the more marks you make
the more chance you have to make one that’s off as well so if only I could
paint and have every mark just work perfectly but that’s just not the way
painting works so that’s the length of a highlight on his nose and lower that a
little I want to make sure I don’t have his eye too low I had that tendency for
years I made the eyes too low I don’t want to do that in this let’s position
his eye lid I can see that little bit of light on his eyelid it would be nice to
at least have an indication there it’s a little higher than I have sit right
about there just an initial indication what that’s gonna do is allow me to
model the forms around it a little bit more I love that blue color in his skin
but he didn’t think he had blue skin but I’m making it there’s a little blue in
there it’s all that color of the light that’s making that blue it’s not that
blue of course but so again the color the light is what’s determining what I’m
doing here I love that look he has on his brow or his brows arched a bit it
gives him his character kind of here this is this here is gonna help me
determine the final shape at the back of his skull as well those cheekbones a little higher than I
have them I can even scratch them in with a brush handle then I’ll mix the
color I see a cool like a violet hitting those so a straight line that’s a little
bluer than that straight line then a diagonal all right keep working into
that there’s so much subtlety in the bone structure of his face here I’m just
trying to get the essentials here how big is that highlight on his temple sometimes I don’t even mix the color
entirely I use a little kind of broken color meaning that I just put put a dot
try to get basically the right value then just put a data color in there it
doesn’t have to be totally mixed the smaller the painting the more you can
get away with that at a really big painting it doesn’t look as good because
it becomes too busy but on a smaller painting you can sometimes just throw in
an unmixed color look let’s get that side of his cheek here now all of this stuff I’m doing should
allow me to get his ear the right size I don’t want us had to get any smaller
now so I’m gonna really work at it to get that year the right size and shape
that earlobe and the shadow from his earring comes down right about there
close to that anyway it’s not perfect it’s close though close back of the ear top of the ear about there see all right
I’m getting getting there slowly but getting there I love the color really
want to get that light on his it’s collar or the his neck next to the
collar I’ve done a very little blending up to this point almost none let’s see
here I get the shape of his beard a little bit more accurate to I don’t
quite have that the main piece of light on his beard where’s that let’s get that
in there just indicate it anyway a little higher than I had it and a little
bigger and a little yeah do you know no not greener piece of light there let’s
see put that same color up in his head somewhere boy there’s a lot of colors in
there there’s a lot of stuff going on let’s put in let’s put in those lightest
lights again on that on his head let’s really try to get that sense of light blue and a little yellow and white for
the lightest light that’s gonna come right across his head there maybe I’ll
blur it a little and then repaint it that’s fun some artists don’t do that
but I think it’s fun to kind of lose an edge and then repaint it to really get
that sense of form but excuse me I don’t want to get any smaller than I have him
now it’s right about the size of the head that I want or very close in any
case losing that edge a little in here I want to get that sense of sculptural
form on the head now all of this there’s areas that I’ll repaint after I blend
them because I don’t want to lose the shapes too much so the blending has to
be done very sparingly you should be able to do a painting with
no no blending but a little bit of fun there’s that just don’t want to overdo
it the special soft brush do this just losing that edge I know this is very
small so if it’s hard to see I apologize but there is a there’s a little edge
thing happening here and try to do this there’s a sharpen there’s a sharp edge
right here the sharp edge is on this side of his nostril the soft edge goes
into his cheek so I’m trying to show that there let’s try that again now that
I have this tone a little bit of a darker tone on the front of his eye the
eyeball is like there’s a a point where it goes from light into shadow that’s
why I’m putting a dark line on that side of it right there let’s see here
try to describe a bit of the shape on the back edge of his eyelid on this side there’s his eyebrow now I can see that I
can go down a little bit on the top of his skull just a little bit right here
got to be very careful here I don’t go too far I can also probably go down a
little in the background nope that’s too light let’s try this again very subtle here congratula bringing this head down a
little there oh we’re getting closer to his actual skull shape sometimes
sometimes it takes a while you get it I’m taking off about you know a third of
a millimeter each time very small movements that’s what it needs all right take that color and put it
right down at the bottom for now one thing I know is that nothing in here is
really light so it’s okay to do this even if it’s not the perfect color let’s
see where was I mmm it still feels a little big in the skull area I’m trying
to go I don’t want to go too far but I think I think I can keep coming down a
little here tricky tricky tricky tricky and see mmm close it’s very easy to go too far big bright highlight OOP that would be a
break thank you very much I’m back you know I’m wondering if I went too far
there I think it’s close I’m gonna put a few colors in there that I want to see a
cooler tone cool there ton on the back of the head good time for a break into
it cuz I’m out of my burnt sienna oops using the cool edge of that brush
there’s gonna be a hand there and maybe a hand there somewhere maybe a little
higher than that now I don’t really want that hand touching the bottom anyway so
I’m as long as I keep the head in that general size it the composition should
look fine ideally I’d like in about that much size below the same amount below
the lower hand as I have above his head that would be ideal not sure if it’s
gonna do that but I think it might work out close to that maybe on this break
I’ll blend a few things to just so I’m not what I want to do is simplify the
head the idea is that that the overall geometry of the head should be like a
cylindrical form you know it’s overall cylindrical form so and the other thing
I do is sometimes I just want to lose the edge a little bit here and there
just so that I don’t have too many small marks I’m just simplifying my my marks a
little bit here so they’re not too Scratchy there is a mark in his forehead
huh let’s let’s get more paint I’m almost out of this all right
actually let’s get every last bit out of this tube there we go bye-bye
um now that’s some more blue also so we’re slowly zeroing in on his his
actual skull shape that’s what I want it’s redefine that shadow right there
gonna be a little red and it’s too red try again I’ll get back to that ah what
else do I want here I’m just gonna soften this edge a little here as well thinking of his head is like a cylinder
cylindrical form whoops all right alright I’m gonna make one mark here and
we’re gonna take a little break for a minute as soon as I get that well of
course I say 1 mark 1 mark quickly becomes 5 marks but I put a little spot
there which is gonna make me remember to go back to that point later so let’s
take a little break and we’ll get back to it in a few minutes hello my name is
Hollis Dunlap I’m an American realist painter from Connecticut throughout my
career the major focus of my work has been the figure new masters Academy
invited me here to show you my approach to painting the figure from life and if
you’ll join me you can watch and learn as I paint two pieces from start to
finish I’ll start with the description of the materials that I use and why I
use them throughout the process I’ll do my best to explain every color choice
and brush mark as I refine the painting over time my preference is to work from
natural light which will allow us to study the color in a naturalistic way we
carefully consider the colors and the surrounding space and the effect that
they had on the model I hope that by watching this you’ll learn some things
that will benefit your own process you can follow along as I refine the drawing
in color as we go I’m just trying to think of the simplest representation of
the figure I can do I hope that over the course of the video you’ll learn some
things that will help you paint the figure more confidently and more
effectively thank you for joining me and let’s get started you

22 Replies to “How to Oil Paint a Portrait”

  1. Nooooiceee. Thanks for your time and Spreading your years worth of knowledge of the study of the figure.

  2. Hello NMA , you ever think of including a digital artist in your arsenal of great instructors?

  3. Спасибо за урок, это было очень познавательно и полезно! Thank you!

  4. No one ever mentions their easel in supplies. I love yours!!! Been searching. What is it? Thanks so much for the wonderful video!

  5. when making a commentary video always talk like you're on the throne doing number two. deep voice from the back of your throat. push. that's it.

  6. Hola Hollis, tienes un parecido con el que actuaba de patán en "Art School Confidential". Parece que no hay un tutorial donde este terminada tu pintura.

  7. You do a good job, and I'm enjoying seeing your process. One criticism: you make a point of briefly discussing your palette, that you use the same one for all genres (very interesting; I tend to do the same), but you never actually methodically, specifically mention the colors. I discern that you use ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, a red (which one hasn't been mentioned yet – about a third of the way through the video), yellow (a cad? which?), and white (presumably titanium?). I do enjoy your video and your method but wish this hadn't been overlooked.

  8. Guys kindly watch my video. I do an oil painting from life. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Oacl3J7RngQ

  9. I am looking for a video tutorial on how to paint.Is there a video from Steve Huston on painting?I learned to draw watching Him

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