4 Stages of Bringing a Portrait to Life: an Oil Painting Demo



Understand how to make lifelike portraits by painting in levels. Gustavo Ramos shares the secrets powering his masterful perform in an oil painting demo of Mother and Kid.

Gustavo Ramos: Mother and Child (oil on panel, 20x15)
Mother and Boy or girl (oil on panel, 20×15)

Phase 1: The Wipeout

To commence this portray, I lined the surface area with a skinny wash of transparent oxide red and ultramarine blue diluted with odorless mineral spirits. I applied this mixture with a rag and wiped the panel until eventually I attained a light neutral tone. Then, I began organizing out the composition and drawing by carving out the lights with a kneaded eraser.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 1 | the Wipeout
In this stage, I am thinking in conditions of mass and large shapes, making an attempt to be common but exact.

Stage 2: The Drawing

In the up coming phase, I switched from a mass mentality to a a lot more linear strategy to refine the drawing. By thoroughly positioning straight traces on the panel, I could figure out the rhythms and spatial associations of the pose, operating from huge to tiny. I retained my conté pencil sharp at all periods and produced subtle suggestions of sort and quantity as a warmup for the portray stage.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 2 | the Drawing
I used a sharp conté pencil to refine the drawing and heat up for painting.

Phase 3: Portray the Full

With my drawing founded, my future objective was to include the complete floor with a layer of paint. Employing my whole shade palette, I tried to do this in just one portray session, doing the job broadly and trying to understand the coloration and tonal associations all through the piece.

I was in essence trying to capture an precise initially effect. I consider the very best way to carry out this is by doing work on the total painting at when somewhat than part by portion. Making use of aged artificial brushes, I made sporadic marks that still left an natural really feel, which would exhibit by in the concluded painting.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 3 | Painting the Whole
In this stage, I retained my shadows semi-translucent and crafted up some Stage 4: The Refinement

To bring the painting to completion, I painted over my original pass to precisely calibrate the colors and tones by using techniques such as glazing and scumbling.

In my previous pass, I intentionally leaned light, allowing for darker glazes in the upcoming passes to enrich the color and create a luminous “backlit” glow. I continued to be mindful of keeping my shadows transparent while adding more body to the lights.

Oil Painting Demo: Stage 4 | the Refinement
In this final pass, I spent a good amount of time adjusting the facial features, since they are the focus of the portrait.

The Benefits of Painting in Layers

Some parts of this portrait were completely resolved within two layers, while others took as many as five layers to achieve my desired refinement and effect. Some of my other paintings can have as many as 10 layers on certain passages.

Painting with many layers helps me achieve close control of color and tone; I get closer to the right tone with each layer. The Old Masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt knew they could not “get it right” with just one layer of paint, so it would be disrespectful for me to assume that I can.

Another advantage of painting in layers is the different effects that arise from the paint build-up. These effects are impossible to achieve with a single layer and help transform the painting into something deeper and more lifelike, rather than just paint.

See more of Ramos’ portraits: 8 Masterful Gustavo Ramos Paintings with Brilliant Form and Depth

Meet Gustavo Ramos Live


Sign up for us on May possibly 24 for an distinctive member party in which Gustavo Ramos shares his ideas how to elevate the genre of portraiture and manage an invigorating studio exercise. Help you save your seat now!

About the Artist

GUSTAVO RAMOS (b. 1993 Brazil) is swiftly becoming a outstanding and sought-after oil painter in the realm of portraiture. His work has been exhibited in earth class venues, together with the European Museum of Present day Art in Barcelona, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and Sotheby’s in New York City. Connect with him on Instagram @gustavoramosart or examine his do the job at gustavoramos.art.



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