Old Master Painting Techniques


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I was commissioned awhile back to do a painting of a few guys that did reenactments of the old west. This was a fun and challenging project! I took pics along the way to show how I learned how to oil paint. I wanted to share them with you because I think it really helps to get a painting started!

First I took the photo I was given and scanned it and printed in high contrast black and white. This gives me the values that I need to give depth to the painting.

Next I prepare the canvas. I used Burnt umber with linseed oil and add it to the canvas until I have a nice thin layer that is wet all over the canvas.

Then taking the reference photo, turn it upside down and use Viva paper towels to rub out the basic shapes you see paying attention to the values.

You can see that I took off more where the values are brighter.

Then you start to paint with large brushes to minimize any detail at this point. As you go you turn the photo over for reference to make sure you are getting the correct perspective.

I was taught not to get stuck in the details. That the mind will fill all those details in. It is hard to not want to put the details in but it is just one style of painting and gives the painter more freedom to capture the the soul of the subject.

Then it is just a matter of capturing the values and the painting comes to life! I was pleased with the outcome and so was my customer!

I did keep this painting loose and I used my old Iphone camera so not the best rendition of the end product.

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What do you think?

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