4 Stages of Bringing a Portrait to Life: an Oil Painting Demo

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Understand how to create lifelike portraits by painting in levels. Gustavo Ramos shares the insider secrets guiding his masterful perform in an oil portray demo of Mother and Child.

Gustavo Ramos: Mother and Child (oil on panel, 20x15)
Mom and Little one (oil on panel, 20×15)

Phase 1: The Wipeout

To get started this portray, I lined the surface with a slim wash of transparent oxide crimson and ultramarine blue diluted with odorless mineral spirits. I applied this combination with a rag and wiped the panel until I achieved a mild neutral tone. Then, I began arranging out the composition and drawing by carving out the lights with a kneaded eraser.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 1 | the Wipeout
In this stage, I am imagining in terms of mass and significant designs, attempting to be basic but exact.

Stage 2: The Drawing

In the next stage, I switched from a mass mentality to a much more linear technique to refine the drawing. By very carefully positioning straight traces on the panel, I could figure out the rhythms and spatial relationships of the pose, doing the job from large to little. I held my conté pencil sharp at all moments and built refined tips of variety and quantity as a warmup for the portray stage.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 2 | the Drawing
I made use of a sharp conté pencil to refine the drawing and warm up for painting.

Phase 3: Painting the Complete

With my drawing recognized, my upcoming aim was to protect the entire floor with a layer of paint. Using my whole coloration palette, I attempted to do this in 1 painting session, doing the job broadly and attempting to understand the shade and tonal associations all through the piece.

I was basically trying to seize an correct initial impression. I consider the very best way to accomplish this is by working on the complete portray at as soon as somewhat than component by section. Employing outdated synthetic brushes, I designed sporadic marks that still left an organic come to feel, which would show by means of in the finished painting.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 3 | Painting the Whole
In this stage, I retained my shadows semi-translucent and designed up some Stage 4: The Refinement

To bring the painting to completion, I painted over my original pass to precisely calibrate the colors and tones by using techniques such as glazing and scumbling.

In my previous pass, I intentionally leaned light, allowing for darker glazes in the upcoming passes to enrich the color and create a luminous “backlit” glow. I continued to be mindful of keeping my shadows transparent while adding more body to the lights.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 4 | the Refinement
In this final pass, I spent a good amount of time adjusting the facial features, since they are the focus of the portrait.

The Benefits of Painting in Layers

Some parts of this portrait were completely resolved within two layers, while others took as many as five layers to achieve my desired refinement and effect. Some of my other paintings can have as many as 10 layers on certain passages.

Painting with many layers helps me achieve close control of color and tone; I get closer to the right tone with each layer. The Old Masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt knew they could not “get it right” with just one layer of paint, so it would be disrespectful for me to assume that I can.

Another advantage of painting in layers is the different effects that arise from the paint build-up. These effects are impossible to achieve with a single layer and help transform the painting into something deeper and more lifelike, rather than just paint.

See more of Ramos’ portraits: 8 Masterful Gustavo Ramos Paintings with Brilliant Form and Depth

Meet Gustavo Ramos Live

Join us on Might 24 for an distinctive member party in which Gustavo Ramos shares his views how to elevate the genre of portraiture and maintain an invigorating studio observe. Save your seat these days!

About the Artist

GUSTAVO RAMOS (b. 1993 Brazil) is quickly starting to be a notable and sought-following oil painter in the realm of portraiture. His function has been exhibited in globe course venues, which include the European Museum of Contemporary Artwork in Barcelona, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and Sotheby’s in New York Metropolis. Connect with him on Instagram @gustavoramosart or examine his get the job done at gustavoramos.artwork.

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