It is always scary to try something for the first time - I think it is even more scary if you attempt your first portrait! It certainly was for me. But I decided it was time, and I searched the Internet for a nice photo of a person. I decided to use the famous picture of the Afghan girl which was on the front cover of National Geographic. Anyway, I started with the background, then blocked in the clothing and then the face. Then I started modelling the face, building it up in layers.
I must mention that I almost always work wet on wet, which means that I paint on wet paint. I do not wait for one layer of paint to dry before I paint the next layer. That also means that I cannot really do "dry-brush" and I also cannot do glazing. Dry-brush means applying paint with a brush that is fairly dry onto a dry layer of paint. Glazing is to apply a thin layer of transparent paint mixed with turps and oil onto a already dry layer of paint. Both these methods let the first layer of paint show through.
The way I prefer to paint is to paint the thinner, darker paint first and building the painting up using thicker paint in each additional layer. I keep the highlights for last, and it is just amazing how the highlights make the painting come alive. The thin paint should always be at the bottom, because if you put a layer of thin paint over thicker paint, the thin paint will dry first and as the bottom thicker layers dry, the top thin layer will crack.
Here is my first portrait. I must say I was very impressed with the outcome. Actually I couldn't believe that I was able to do it. Now I know anything is possible. If I put my heart and my time into painting, I might one day be able to paint like Renoir!
This painting is not for sale. I only did it as an exercise in portrait painting. There is copyright on the original photo and although my painting is not exactly the same, it still is recognizable.
For more portraits and paintings of figures visit my website Painted Canvas.