How to paint a portrait in oils, step 1

Hello, I have had a lot of interest in my portrait painting and people ask me all the time about my process. My portrait Art process is an ongoing learning curve for me and it will change as the months go on, with that in mind, I realised that I have never sat down and gone through my full process, how I start from a blank canvas and what is happening in my head as I work through a piece.

I figured this could make a really good blog post from week to week, so here goes stage 1

So, let’s start at the beginning…


If you want a good portrait, you need the correct subject matter, by that I don’t mean the sitter, I mean the way the sitter is positioned (what angle are they seated at) and lit. When I am looking for practice images, I search the internet looking for this elusive being.

Looking back on the old Masters and in particular, Rembrandt who was the master of the half shadow effect, along with the sitter positioned in a three-quarter pose, you can appreciated why he worked this way