Thursday, June 3, 2010

My portrait of Jesse Paz

Portrait of Jesse Paz
My prep drawing for Jesse's portrait in pencil

Hey all, this is my portrait of Jesse Paz another artist in the Pushing Pigments project with me. You can also see the portrait he did of me if you visit our blog.
I basically started this painting how i would any other painting lately, with a rough drawing. I find the proportions, contours and shadow shapes and that is enough for me to work off of.
From this point i made an oil transfer with Raw umber and loosely established the shadow patterns. You can find examples of the oil transfer on Douglas Flynt's blog.
Oil sketch of Jesse Paz in Raw Umber

I then chose to start painting from the darkest part of the shadow on the neck. My goal was to paint everything in one pass and not to worry about all the little detail. What is more important to me is developing the form and not letting the drawing get away from me. I also restrict my palette to some basic earth colors such as Raw Siena, Burnt Siena, Ivory Black and Lead White. It is not until i get into the lighter areas of the flesh were i'll switch from Raw Siena to Yellow Ocher.
First painting stage

Now that i have all the basic colors and forms figured out I can go over them and check for mistakes. More so than the color and tones I am worried about the drawing mistakes. In the end it doesn't matter as much what color things are or how expressive the brush work is. I often change to some degree the colors or tones to fit the mood of the piece that i'm going for. If the drawing isn't correct or at least having the shapes work well with each other one may have just an exciting portrait of Quasimodo.
The color, tones and forms blocked in

After I have corrected all the major drawing mistakes I made in the process of adding the color I now have a good base to finish the portrait. This time I work in the halftone and light areas first. I pick one section at a time and take it to a finish leaving the shadow shapes to the very end. The highlights on the cheek, nose and forehead were the finishing touches on this piece. I worked about three days on this portrait one day on the drawing and two to paint it.
Finished Portrait sketch of Jesse Paz


  1. Hi Brian,

    I like your "secure" drawing skills and the great use of values.

    Best regards,


  2. thanks José, Lately in my work I have been trying to limit my decision making once I get to the painting stage. I have found that this extra step makes my painting speed compared to just starting with the paint. I narrow down all the drawing mistakes on a piece of paper and throw it out if it doesn't work out. a lot easier than scraping down a whole canvas.