top of page

Painting Mom

I asked my mom recently to sit for me. She agreed. I took about 10 photos of her in certain poses and choose the best one. When embarking on painting a portrait there is only one known - everyone knows what a face "should look like". No pressure, right? Portraits, surprisingly, DO NOT have to look like the sitter 100% of the time if that was not the intention. You would call it a gesture portrait painting. But when you want to paint someone as you see them, it is important to focus on what is it about "this" face makes it unique. You have to have balance in each brushstroke taken to make sure you are not over exaggerating a feature. I had several frustrations while painting, as it only takes 1 bad stroke to make it not look like the person you intend. But oil is less forgiving and can be pulled off, or scraped off, easily. I find it is key sometimes to just stop and come back the next day. Sleeping on it allows your brain to be blind to it when you look at it again. You may see something you didn't yesterday that needs correction. This took me a while to learn and it has helped me "save" several paintings from the burn pile.

I sure do love my Mom! She is the strength of our family. While painting, I make sure to step back many times. In seeing the painting from afar, I can see her likeness. With each layer of painting and color laid, she kept getting closer and closer. When I look at this painting I see my Mom, my Grandmother, Kitty, and myself in some of the features.


Janet; 11 x 14 in., Oil on Panel - 6 hours total

Here are some snapshots of my painting progress:

Initial sketch of the basic shapes that I see - Burnt Umber mixed with OMS to make a thin wash

The initial sketch is the firm foundation of my painting process.

Squinting, seeing the basic values of light. No detail, just basic shapes

More and more layering of color, still squinting at this state

Carving in the face a little more by using the background color - mixture of Alizarin + UB + CRL

First eye details, stepping back multi=times allowed me to see that this wasn't enough

Stepping back, I needed more intense colors to give impression of eyelashes. Slight gray tone to give light bounce and definition under the eye

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page