Portrait in oil, stages of the process

‘Process’ is the path from the humble beginnings (possibly an idea or a thought) to a more finished end. If I had my way, art exhibitions would include not only a display of the ‘finished’ works but also much of the preparation work it took to get to there. I think this would not only enlighten people to the effort involved, but it would help them appreciate the steps required and stall the race-to-the-end which seems to be urgently demanded. There are well-trodden stages to finished artworks, and much joy to be had in lingering there. It’s not ALL about the end.

I am currently working on a small painting of my son. I love sharing the whole process involved in producing artwork, so here is the initial drawing in stages, and the colour study which I did before starting the more careful final painting.

I don’t absolutely always do a preliminary drawing - but I am always sorry if I haven’t. The drawing study is a valuable way to investigate shapes and tones and placement of the elements to be painted, as well as the place to make decisions about the atmosphere we want to achieve in the final work . Spending time preparing to paint repays tenfold, or more!


The next stage is the colour study. I LOVE this part! In fact, my study has more detail in than is necessary, but I was enjoying it and indulged myself. Working straight to paint, I blocked in a face-shape, without worrying at all about a likeness. The point here is working out what colours, and paying attention to tonal balance too. In this painting, there is a lot of striped light on the forehead from lighting directly above. That is the challenge.

The photo above is to show you the scale - it isn't large. It took an evening to complete. 

Now I’m ready to begin the final painting!

For info on upcoming workshops please email me on julie@juliedouglas.co.uk