Oil Painting Portrait – Part 1

Part 1 – The Underpainting

Portrait painting is difficult for me because it’s so specific. If the features aren’t just right it’ll end up looking like someone else. I haven’t painted very many portraits yet so I’m doing what I can to make it easier on myself. With that in mind, I’m starting this portrait with a detailed underpainting. The underpainting allows me to work out any kinks before I move on.


A previous version of this painting can be seen at the end of the May Update post. Since that post I’ve worked on changing the features for a better likeness.

Making the Underpainting

I used turpentine and raw umber to create this sketch. The underpainting needs to be dry before it can be painted over it so it doesn’t mix with the paint layered on top. Mixing turpentine with a dry paint like raw umber makes for a quick drying layer by oil paint standards. I really like the look of it too. It almost looks like a watercolor.

I don’t like using turpentine because it’s toxic. However,  I really like using it for sketching and cleaning. While painting I try to be conscious of having good ventilation and avoiding skin contact while working with it.

Read more about this painting and see how it has progressed:

Oil Painting Portrait – Part 2

Oil Painting Portrait – Part 3

Oil Painting Portrait – Part 4

Oil Painting Portrait – Part 5

Oil Painting Portrait – Part 6

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