Painting The Portrait

Advanced, Experts, Oils, Painting | 08 Sep, 2012

David Gray shows you how to paint realistic portraiture in this oil painting demonstration. This is possibly some of the finest oils work I have seen recently and is on par with some of the great traditional masters of oil painting.

This art demonstration is time lapsed throughout and is engrossing from the start. The way David Gray moves the paint brush around the canvas gradually stepping in and out of complimentary soft tones to paint the face is absolutely outstanding; this really is traditional oil painting at its highest standard.

The canvas is pre sketched by the artist to give him a visual aid for where the tones and highlights cast on the face are to be applied with the oil paints. He uses three different sized round bristle brushes to construct his masterpiece each one being used in a very similar way to cover large areas of skin as well as the finer intricate details. With the small round brush he applies the oils masterfully to gain outlines of the key features like the eyes, nose and mouth. Gray works from the top down making sure he finishes the area which he is painting fully before he moves on.

He uses the small and medium brushes to apply the oil paint and gather the various skin tones and regularly introduces another dry medium brush to blend the areas to create a smooth transition from area to area. He concentrates on painting roughly one inch squared of canvas at a time making fully sure that it is completed and resembles the visual reference he is painting from.

This art video on how to paint realism in oils is truly magnificent so be sure to leave your comments at the bottom of the page and visit David Gray at his website and support art online.

www.dgoilpaintingtechniques.com

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    1. I am using a little Daniel Smith Medium for Oils and Alkyds. Not much. It helps the drying time but does not change the character of the paint very much. I could do the same thing without any medium at all, save a little oil to thin the paint with as necessary. The darkest darks are probably just raw umber, maybe a bit of black. I use M. Graham paints. Their raw umber is a little cooler and darker than the normal. All the best!

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    2. if practice makes perfect, my guess is that you have practiced a lot. i draw too, but i’m using acrylic… i’m frightened to start with oil paintings because it’s so expensive here… do you have any tips for me?is it possible to draw with oil paintings over cardboard?what are the main differences between acrylic and oil paints??

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    3. To somewhat answer, Try cheaper good oils, like earth pigments usually. Start with a limited palette so you can learn to control paint before you drop a lot of money on more expensive pigments. Yes, but 2 big things, the cardboard will absorb the oils and It’s not a good long term surface. Coat it with shellac from a hardware store and both problems should be solved to a decent degree. Acrylic is plastic, pigment dries tight, and dries fast. Oil bounces light and color more…

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    4. .. oil is a lot more versatile in general and typically looks much better. I honestly don’t see the reason to use acrylic if you’re serious about painting, it’s very limiting and stunts most hobby painters from becoming better painters.

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    5. amazing, Just shows me how hopeless I am, Thank you for showing me how it can and should be done. I loved watching her face growing out from the canvas bit by bit. I have only been painting for a year and a half, sorry ( only acrylic so far ) but now I am determaned to try oil.

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    6. You should have been born in Italy during Renascence times, then now your paintings would have cost millions…Well, at least nowadays you are the one who sells them and being paid for all your efforts ;-). Beautiful work!

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    7. I would agree with that. Start with white and raw umber. Get a handle on the medium in monochrome and then start adding a few colors. Limited palettes can achieve a surprising degree of brilliant color. Cardboard is fine for practice. Just prime it with something first.

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    8. Oil paints and acrylic paints are two completely different animals. I’m continually surprised at the comments I hear about how similar they are. Nothing of the kind. Buy a few tubes of oil and start playing around with it. Read everything you can get your hands on about the medium. Take a class or two if possible. There are a lot of great videos here on youtube. Good luck!

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    9. Great work!As a professional painter myself , I find your application quite unique as you work on sections of the face to completion instead of building the entire portrait up by dark’s and colds first over the entire area. Do you work this way as a means to cut the painting time in half?

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    10. Nothing magic in the palette. Get a suitable group of colors together and start learning what they can do. I have a video about my particular palette if you are interested. But there are many suitable palettes that can work.

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    11. Interesting question. No. I work this way because this is how I work. Sorry about the oversimplification. It’s a very methodical intentional way of working that suits my personality and my artistic aims ( as all methods should ). It’s not at all uncommon among many of the contemporary classicists. Thanks for the comment.

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    12. sorry if it comes harsh to your view but it is the correct term to use on that technique that i ask. or should i say or refrain my question. is your technique that you used in this video is alla prima? i don’t intended to offend someone!

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    13. Can we all just write, AWESOME. BRAVO to keeping traditional techniques alive. BRAVO. I’m watching this video; speechless, with my mouth open and not blinking like I was looking into the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t look away for a moment.

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    14. I’m an ave. landscape and animal painter and even won 2 awards the first time I ever entered a contest,1 st place in the oil painting of a Thomas Kincade type painting and a people’s choice award for a tiger in a swamp.There were probably 300 very good paintings competing,but there was absolutely nothing there of your caliber,God has truly blessed you with an extra portion of the “IT” factor.People ask me all the time if I do portraits & I say no,but you have inspired me to try ,God Bless.

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    15. Not quite sure what you mean, exactly. There are many approaches to painting. What you see here is a for of what is known as “tiling”. The goal is to mix the appropriate hue, value, and chroma and place it in it’s correct spot. However, you can see I usually go back and build up my lights. So it’s not tiling in the strictest sense. I still have to fudge around a bit and push and pull colors into there proper place.

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    16. Spend a lot of time painting and getting to know your palette and what it can do for you. Painting skin is not much different then painting anything else. There is really no set formula you can use because as soon as you encounter different lighting situations it changes everything. But there is a nice exercise you can do. Find a brown egg that is similar in color to the type of skin tone you want to practice. Put the egg in different lighting contexts and paint it. That will help a lot.

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    17. Great video,and painter),it is very helpfull,i didn’t knew that such an aproach can have such a marvelous look,wish you good luck in your artistic career)may i ask wich kind of medium did you use and is the primer as usual chalk-glue-zinkwhite?

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    18. Thanks so much for the comment. No, I paint on acrylic primed canvas or panel. I use a little Daniel Smith alkyd medium to help with the drying time. It’s not absolutely necessary but it does help me get things done a little faster.

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    19. Hi love your painting, im trying oil paints at the moment, and can you tell me how you get the face to look so soft and the colours blend to look as one do you wait till the oil starts to dry and brush lightly with very soft clean brush, ive not been to art classes or art college and i cant figure out how its done like the old masters did on portraits thanks jas

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    20. i don’t think about who is the most talented you know, only about talent itself .and you have some ahaha ! And thank you , you gave me the desir to try oil painting , i always seein my mind the way you mix colors while you’re painting , its stuck, i want to be able to do it as well . i love to learn merci !

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    21. you’re probably getting sick of all the complements – but still this is very impressive.question: for the beginner oil portraitist, would a limited palette be preferable over an extensive one, if so what 5 colors plus white would you recommend? i find your palette some what intimidating.

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    22. Yes. A limited palette is to be preferred if you are still learning. Hmmm. I guess I would go with raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and ultramarine. I know that will give you a limited range but you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. After you get the hang of those colors you can start to add some of the brighter, more chromatic ones such as Cad yellow, cad red, Alizarin, and phtalo green.

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    23. David, I can not stop watching this video. surprisingly you did not show your palette once. do you mix all tones on your palette first or you mix them as you go? Please upload similar videos it’s so exciting watching. Thanks.

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    24. The fixitive is just to keep the charcoal drawing in place. I DO use gesso, of a sort. I use acrylic primer (or gesso as it is sometimes called). So in this case the charcoal drawing is done on top of the primed canvas. Then I spray the drawing to keep it in place. The fixitive I use is any run of the mill spray fixitive. I think the brand was Krylon, but there are others that work. Just make sure you use adequate ventilation when using. Very harmful fumes.Cheers!

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    25. Hello David! Beautiful and amazing work! This is literally the first time I’ve seen someone paint using oils. I’m a brand new artist in training. Just starting with pencil sketching right now. Taking online classes. What I was surprised by is that you don’t just start with 1 color and finish all areas of that color first. You mix and mingle basically from top to bottom/left to right. Wild! Very intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing this. I have a new found love! 😀

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    26. Yes. Be aware that there are many good methods out there. What I’m doing is pretty disciplined. You have to know what you are doing. But don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE to do this or you HAVE to do that because 99% of the time they will be wrong. Many paths. Good luck!

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    27. Thank you so much David! Thankfully I learned that early on and it is very important for people to know for any medium. It really can stop people from even trying if they assume (or were told) that there’s only 1 right way. Then they feel they aren’t capable of even attempting it. I’m have a ton to learn (not that learning ever stops) and I sometimes think there’s certain ways to do things until I see something new like your videos. 🙂

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    28. You are filled-in the tone with such incredible preciseness…like “color with numbers”…and non is overdone. I have never seen a portrait painted by a painter in such a way. Thank you so much for showing us a different perspective in portrait painting.

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    29. I have learned so much from watching this video, and like the rest, I have watched a few on here, I have been to the louve, Florence, and many palaces in Europe and understanding how it is done with your talent, is greatly apprecaited. You talent is awesome. I really appreciate you helping out others here, sharing, thank you for this! I am learning how to paint, and this process is slow enough to catch all the naunces and detail you perform. Thank you, thank you!

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    30. Um. Not sure how to answer this. I just mix what I deem to be the appropriate color and put it where it belongs. Whether it’s burnt sienna or not is immaterial. I have a light touch and load my brush. This enables me to paint on top of underlayers without disturbing them too much. I imagine the pink tones have a bit of reddish color in them. All the best,

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    31. Your work is incredible. And I’m so glad that I found your videos….very inspiring. Your paintings remind me of work I’ve seen in museums and castles in Great Britain. I’ll be looking for your work on Canyon Rd here in Santa Fe.

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    32. Anyone can learn to ‘block in form’ but not everyone can paint with the delicate skill you have David. Your ability to work in this technique is truely inspiring and reminicent of Da Vinci, who also had his share of critics who threw acid and a rock at the Mona Lisa. From one artist to another, I applaude you. The character of a person can be judged not by what they say, but what they do – an you do it ‘beautifully’.

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    33. David,This is perhaps because you seem to criticize the “poor English” a commentator… do not forget that you are seen by many people who do not have English for native language but who make the effort to write to you in your language…You are a great artist and a good person also to share your knowledge like this 😉

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    34. I do realize that. But poor English is poor English. I’m not criticizing as much as I am giving a reason why I can’t understand some of the comments. I always try to answer every question no matter how bad the grammar, etc.

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    35. love your style..I come to this video for inspiration..question, what type canvas do you commonly use because i’m sure you use one that depends on what or how you are going to approach a certain portrait. do you have a preference?

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    36. It’s brilliant. I wish there was a chance for me to work with you. I’m trying my best with personal experimentation, books and these videos / blog entries you post. Your work and teaching is very valuable, thank you for posting all these on the internet.

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    37. Amazing Work! What type of canvas do you use if you do don’t mind me asking? I have been using gessoed plywood panels because I like having a very smooth surface to paint on, but it looks like you’re getting a nice smooth finish with whatever you’re using.

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    38. OMG!!! this is insane! I wanna go crazy!! this is unbelievable! did you study or this is purely talent? come on, you must teach me how to do this! i can draw but no way like this.. i am like a toddler compare to you! hahaha

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    39. I scoop up the paint and put it in a tiny plastic container with attached lid.* Fill the container up to the brim with water before sealing it shut. It stays good for a very long time. (* You find them at take away restaurants and you can buy them at stores that sell them wholesale)

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    40. I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this video. It’s very helpful to me because my faces lack depth and realism because I’ve only been using about 3 shades and you use so many in this video alone. I know what I need to do now. It’s given me direction and inspiration. For that, I am grateful. Thank you!

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    41. Hey david I was watching this video and I noticed that it looks like your using one brush for painting (mainly the skin tones) and one brush with black bristles for blendin (im sure ur using more that I didnt notice btw)….can I ask you what type of brushes thses are? Round? Filbert? What sizes? Dynthetic

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    42. Good eye. Yes, many times I will use a dry brush to blend a little. I try to work the paint as I apply it but sometimes I need a little help. In this video I am using mostly Blick Studio Fitch filberts. They are quite expensive. i have done good work with other brushes that aren’t so pricey.

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    43. I have studied this vid demo over and over…and I’m completely blown away every time! I love your approach to paint. I’m pretty much “self-taught”, but when I’ve taken classes in the past, it just totally confuses me with what I instinctively “know”. You’re approach brings it back home to me!I just need to work on “lights/darks”, “warm/cool”…that sort of thing and how to properly mix color without over working it!THANKS for sharing your talent with us!!Doug

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    44. Hey, i am so impressed. Anyhow.. i realized that in the near future you are going to teach a seminar at Hialeah.Anyways. I’m looking forward to assist. Everyone gets amazed by different aspects of your style. I am amazed by by the size of your brush.and everything else.of course.

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    45. amazing work. I love how you get all the shape, colour and depth in without layering or blocking, just mix as you go. It’s like slowly peeling something off to reveal the picture underneath. Why do the charcoal underdrawing, what does that bring to the painting? Is it just for accurate form, like a painting by numbers kit if you will, or is there a hidden dimension I don’t see? I really enjoyed seeing this come together!

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    46. Thank you. No, you’re right. It’s like a paint by number kit in a way. Only I’ve done the drawing myself. But if you look carefully there are a couple of places where i correct the drawing while painting. It’s a foundation on which to paint. Hard to make accurate decisions on drawing, value, color, warm or cool, etc. all in one brush stroke. I know it can be done but I like to set myself up for success. It’s important to know one’s weaknesses.

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