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I'm trying to paint with oils... please help!

ratairatai Registered User new member
edited May 2011 in Artist's Corner
Hi, I'd really appreciate any advice/criticism that you can give on this painting.

I've never painted with oil before, it's a lot of fun but I'm not sure what to do to improve it at this stage. I'd like to get a bit bolder with the colours, and I'd like to improve the likeness.

Looking at it on-screen now, I realise that I should have drawn the outlines in pencil/charcoal at the beginning... the proportions are way out in places and he looks like he's looking straight ahead, rather than down.

If there's anything that jumps to mind, please let me know!
Thanks

oil.jpg

Reference photo:
ref.jpg

ratai on

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    JohnTWMJohnTWM Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Well I am no expert painter, so I don't think I can really help you much with the oils, but if I remember correctly oils will layer just fine if you let them dry a bit so if you want to bright or darken up an area you can just apply the new color directly over. This is why when I did it, like 10 years ago lol, we penciled out the general shapes then filled in areas of base color before going for the details (i'll let someone more qualified step in now).

    As far as the structure goes yeah you're right about the direction, you have painted him as looking forward but with the same general outline shape as the picture where he is looking down and to his left. As a result his head appears significantly fatter and shorter than he really looks. Also you have broadened his entire body as it fills more of the frame in the painting than it does in the picture but the backgrounds still appear to line up. However, I think you already found your own solution, penciling out the proper head shape before applying paint should fix that up in the future.

    JohnTWM on
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    AlyceInWonderlandAlyceInWonderland Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    For a first time with oils, this is a really good attempt, so keep that in mind.

    Your portrait is looking exceedingly brown. If you look at your reference photo, you'll notice that there really is hardly any brown at all, except for his hair, and some parts of the bricks in the background. Everything on his face is a shade of orange, pink, red, or purple. When you look at the photo, pretty much no part of his hand is brown, or tan. It's mostly a light pink that goes to a darker red/orange.

    For the background, the lights are almost completely white, save for a bit around the edges/the glow of the lights (and those are very very vibrant colors. Violets, lime greens, hot pinks). Make sure you see that in the photo, and capture that in your painting. Your colors right now are very muddy, and not terribly vibrant.

    It's a really good attempt though! I hope this post made sense, I always seem to post when I'm dead tired at 1AM

    AlyceInWonderland on
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    ratairatai Registered User new member
    edited May 2011
    Thanks for your comments guys, I really appreciate it.

    ratai on
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    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I don't think you really need to draw it out in pencil/charcoal to begin with but it may help. What you should do though is to basically paint the whole painting with the darkest tones first then slowly layer on top sequentially with each lighter tone and you'll have several chances to reshape the forms and proportions while you layer up the tones.

    Usually what I'd do is have a couple of paintings going at once so I can take a break for a day from each one and work on another so that they have a day to dry down a bit before I put on the next tone layer.

    As for the colors, just go nuts. I mean, look at his forehead in the reference. That thing is fucking neon orange almost. Just mix up a super saturated orange and throw it on there. Don't be afraid. You can always bring it down if it's too saturated. This will help you learn to see the true colors.

    saltiness on
    XBL: heavenkils
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    flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    saltiness wrote: »
    I don't think you really need to draw it out in pencil/charcoal to begin with but it may help. What you should do though is to basically paint the whole painting with the darkest tones first then slowly layer on top sequentially with each lighter tone and you'll have several chances to reshape the forms and proportions while you layer up the tones.

    Interesting, I learned to do the exact opposite!

    well... hmm. Maybe I didnt and I just think I did...

    Anyways, I've found that painting the entire canvas with a neutral color (I get a little paint on the canvas and spread it around with a rag and some solvent for a nice translucent background) makes it easy to start without getting too muddy.
    I honestly can't remember what I learned, but personally I start with the lightest areas and add up from that. Try it both ways and see what you like!

    Its a really great first start (I remember the first time I painted with oils, I pretty much made a portrait of a very blue mummy) so make sure you stay positive about it!

    flowerhoney on
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    wakkawawakkawa Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    From my experience with oils, it is extremely tedious. You need to keep your turpentine(or gamsol, whatever) really clean. For the medium I used it was a mix of turpentine, linseed oil, and something else that I forget. You do not want to mix your paint in this. After every other stroke, dip the end of your brush in and then clean it with a paper towel.

    The less color contamination you have the better. Your colors will start to turn out muddy as shit if you get your medium dirty.

    Also avoid using white at all. White takes the saturation out of your colors.

    Clean your pallet until it is spotless. I used a glass plate and painted the back of it white with acrylic. When it becomes too dirty use a razer to scrape off all the paint.

    wakkawa on
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    ShizumaruShizumaru Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    To echo others, this is a really great first attempt with oils, so good job on that.

    First I will comment and say that I'd start with a better photo reference. Yours has light coming from all angles and the colors are a bit much. For starters I'd stick with a simple single lightsource image. It'll make things a bit easier to manage, especially for portraits.

    For palettes sake I'd go with a simple limited palette of white, yellow, red and black. Typically these would be titanium white, yellow ochre, vermilion(its difficult to find and expensive, so cad red is fine) and ivory black. You can get a full range out of that. As tempting as 'bold' color might be, a fuller palette requires a bit more control so keeping a simple palette at first can be helpful.

    Theres far too many ways to use oils in a procedural sense so I can't comment in depth. Starting with a stained ground is always a good call as opposed to white which is awful imo. Other than that a good working procedure is to work from dark to light, back to front.

    I don't know about the whole 'don't use white' however. Yes white can chalk up your colors, but unless you have a bunch a other lighter colors(seemingly yellows) to mix with, it requires a greater degree of mixing knowledge to mix temperatures right. Just don't be excessive with white and you should be fine.

    Shizumaru on
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    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    wakkawa wrote: »
    From my experience with oils, it is extremely tedious. You need to keep your turpentine(or gamsol, whatever) really clean. For the medium I used it was a mix of turpentine, linseed oil, and something else that I forget. You do not want to mix your paint in this. After every other stroke, dip the end of your brush in and then clean it with a paper towel.

    It sounds like you were making it tedious for yourself. I use turpentine only to slightly thin the paint and to clean the brushes when I make big changes to the color I'm using. There are tons of ways to paint with oils, you can make it very difficult or very easy.

    saltiness on
    XBL: heavenkils
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    wakkawawakkawa Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Yes I'm sure there are plenty of ways to paint with oils, but unless you take the proper steps to keep your tools clean the work is going to suffer.

    There were plenty of kids in my painting classes that "Totally just like, did it their way" but I wouldn't say their colors were all that good. There are just some medias that have to be done a certain way for the best results. Too many people get stuck on the romanticism of being messy but still making art.

    wakkawa on
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    flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I wouldn't say I've known anyone so obsessed with cleaning their brushes after every stroke, but wakka is right in that you'll have to clean off your brush a lot if you want to avoid color mixing

    It doesn't particularly bother me (I mean, obviously if I'm going from like yellow to blue then I'm gonna want to clean the brush) and it may not particularly bother you either

    flowerhoney on
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