Here is a step-by-step oil painting progression.
1) After pencil sketching on a 9x12 canvas panel, I start with the focal point. For this painting the focus is the head and shoulders.
2) I paint the shapes of dark and light. Looking only at shapes right now and not at all interested in detail.
It's all about choices! Decisions have to be made constantly throughout a painting.
3) At this point I have put in a dark background to show the highlights. I chose to go dark with the background, but I could have gone light.
4) Within the tulle of her skirt, dark shapes have to go first to add the structure or foundation. Then mid tone shapes are added followed by light highlights and detail. The final focal is the emphasis of light shining on her legs and tulle skirt. So those shapes are strengthened.
I hope you enjoyed this progression.
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In this book, the author tells the story of how Sargent created this beautiful painting, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, during a very low point in his career.
This period of time was soon after the unveiling of the infamous portrait painting of Madame Guatreau---soon to be called Madame X because of the scandal of her dress strap falling off her shoulder (that's a whole other blog post). After the scandal, Sargent actually considered hanging up his palette and brushes!!
The distraught Sargent sought a safe haven in the English countryside where he spent the summer among friends, artists, and writers, escaping the stuffy Paris Salon. Sargent nursed his wounds and thought over his next career move.
One evening at twilight he had watched some children lighting paper lanterns hung between rose bushes in a garden. With new inspiration he recreated the scene outdoors in a garden, having children pose for him during the 20 or so minutes of delicate twilight each evening.
To capture the beautiful, transient light, he painted this outdoors on the grounds of his friends estate. He continued painting from August through November, 1885. Cold weather arrived before he was able to finish the painting. He continued off and on until 1887.
When it was finally finished and exhibited it was proclaimed a masterpiece! It hangs today in the Tate Gallery in London.
This story fascinates me, offering a window into this particular moment in Sargent's life.
Thought I'd share with you a little bit about how I approach my oil painting for a portrait. I like to start at the focal point, which for a portrait, is always the eyes.
Just as I approach my drawing by shapes, I tell my drawing students to notice shapes and to draw the shapes. In painting I do the same and attack the focal point the same way, looking for the color shapes.
(Please excuse the phone pics)
Apply the color shapes one next to the other. Where the color shapes meet, blend softly.
I paint wet-into-wet one section at a time.
It is helpful to lay in some color in the background that can be used to softly create "soft" or blurred edges while the paint is wet. Some edges should fade or gently blend into the value of the background.
Glazes are added to brighten the color of the cheeks, nose and ears. The middle part of the face has more color in it than the top or bottom the face.
The white of the eye is never white, only the highlight will be white.
For Marie Donato's Oil Painting Classes offered - click below.
A constant love of mine, and an almost lost love, is oil painting, but I am happy to share with you now, that OIL is back in my repertoire and I am loving it!
This portrait commission painting was the catalyst to get my can in gear. Such an adorable face was my challenge! I was so taken by the quality of her soft, young, porcelain-like skin. I knew that achievement would be the goal as well as captivating those beautiful blue eyes.
You may be wondering why oil painting seemed almost lost. Well...when I started my professional painting career my art studio was directly off my bedroom. The problem was a practical one, using oils and turpentine or mineral spirits then - was quite smelly. There are much improved products available now.
So I went the watercolor route for my career, then followed by adding pastel painting. I have enjoyed teaching and sharing what I've learned in both watercolor and pastel.
Oil painting is once again in my studio and I've since added oil painting lessons to my classes offered. Learn more about my art class information page.
If you are interested in commissioning a portrait, call Marie, 314-409-7740. For more information on Marie's portraits check out the FAQ page below.