Jack’s Speciality


Starting on a portrait today, Jack’s specialty. I’m so fortunate that he was always the coach and teacher. When Jack had a portrait commission he would explain what he was doing and why as he worked. Our easels were set up side by side so I could just look over and see his painting. This piece has been commissioned as a surprise for Matt, the gentleman in the photo. He’s holding Splash, their dear furbaby who is now in Heaven.


The first step is to lightly draw my subjects on the canvas in pencil.


Next I begin washing Splash in with a thin mix of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. In the photo his eyes are just red dots where the camera flash reflects off the back of the retinas. So I have to “make up” his eyes. Jack has a wonderful technique for this which I’ll explain in detail when I actually paint Splash’s eyes. Please remember as you read though my blog, you may click on any of the pictures to see them larger.


Splash is roughly blocked in, now we’ll focus on Matt. His face, arm and hand are covered in a light wash. Then I come back and establish the shadow pattern on his face. Flash photography flattens the subject, there is no definite light source. The old Masters painted portraits with the light coming in from the upper left, that’s what I’m going to do. SO…I’ll just make up the shadows. One thing Jack and I did was study and photograph shadows, we have lots of reference I can refer to.


Matt is a Chicago Bears fan, his turtleneck has a tiny BEARS on the collar. Renee especially asked me to make sure that is in the portrait.


The initial oil wash sketch is finished. This is not meant to be an exact likeness at this stage. I just want to get the canvas covered in the basic values to give me a guide to follow as I begin applying opaque oil paint. Thank you for following along. If you would like to receive an email every time I publish a new post please feel free to subscribe to my blog. CLICK THIS LINK and scroll to the upper right side of the page. You will see a heading EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Just enter your email address and click the button “Sign me up!”  It’s easy. And if you enjoy my blog please CLICK the FaceBook LIKE Button. As we say in Texas, “Much Obliged!



2 Responses to “Jack’s Speciality”

  1. philcullendeecullen Says:

    Just beautiful!!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. rpillai2012 Says:

    Great Start to the portraits…thank you for sharing…!

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