How to paint a Portrait in Oils – Time-lapse video

by Will Kemp

in oil painting, portraits

How to paint a black & white portrait in Oils

This is a time-lapse video of a classical approach to a black & white grisaille portrait painting.

It accompanies a free series of 5 step by step, portrait tutorials.
Click here to read How to paint a portrait in Oil : Part 1

A full, online video tutorial course is now available.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan Brantley February 7, 2013

This is absoultely wonderful. I began thinking about doing a black and white portrait painting in my head, then thought that I rarely see them; so I researched and this is by far the most beautiful one yet. Love it and I am totally inspired to create one of my own.

Reply

Will Kemp February 7, 2013

Great to hear it Megan! looking forward to hearing how your black and white portrait turns out.

Cheers,
Will

Reply

Angela April 5, 2013

Absolutely lovely.

Reply

Will Kemp April 5, 2013

Thanks Angela

Reply

Susan Scott June 3, 2013

This portrait is beautiful and so expertly executed. You make it look so easy yet that is often the way of a true master. I might have to give it a shot though as it is very inspiring. Just love you website and all the ideas it conjures up.

Reply

Will Kemp June 3, 2013

Hi Susan, thanks very much, very kind of you to say so. Great to hear you’ve been inspired to have a go at your self portrait!
Let me know how you get on.
Cheers,
Will

Reply

Gerard Madden April 2, 2014

Hi, I’m trying to follow your examples and techniques but wanted to continue in colour. Do you ever follow on from the black and white portrait by building colour glazes on top to produce a finished colour portrait?

Reply

Will Kemp April 3, 2014

Hi Gerard,

You can build up a black and white portrait with coloured glazes but I don’t have a tutorial on it at the moment.

I am planning a colour portrait course, but initially it will be more focused on colour mixing recipe, rather than glazing techniques over the top of a black and white portrait.

As most beginners find getting basic skin tone mixes difficult, it will focus on opaque skin tone mixes.

Cheers,

Will

Reply

Regan November 25, 2014

Hi Will, I’m really inspired by your website. I have no training whatsoever and would like to attempt a sepia colored portrait. Would one just start with the raw umber underpainting and just increase the values with wvery subsequent layer?

Reply

Will Kemp November 27, 2014

Hi Regan, have a look through this oil portrait demo.

Hope it helps,
Cheers,
Will

Reply

Priya Joseph May 7, 2015

Hi Will,
No doubt the paintings are amazing specially the Portraits..!but I still find it really difficult in India to find just the right colour types for my paintings. if only you could suggest the right type of paints that i could look for..that may suit both portrait and scenic paintings..

Reply

Will Kemp May 7, 2015

Hi Priya, you might find this article helpful.
Cheers,
Will

Reply

Nicole October 5, 2015

Hello Will,
I found your website in 2014. The black and white oil portrait tutorial had me running out to buy new brushes. I worked through the steps and was very excited with my final result, until I showed it around. Unanimous response was ‘that’s not you, is it?’
A year later, I’m wondering if I can somehow redo the old painting. Is there any value in trying to correct a portrait gone off?

All the best!

Reply

Will Kemp October 5, 2015

Hi Nicole, pleased you enjoyed the tutorial, yes you could redo the old painting by applying a thin ‘oiling out’ layer to the canvas and then working ontop of that. Personally, I would start a fresh painting so you have a record of your progress as a painter and a record of yourself.

Cheers,
Will

Reply

liya November 25, 2015

hi will,
i am a fan of your art work and teaching method.
thanks for all the knowledge that you share…
i am using a single coated acrylic cotton canvas for oil painting.
but the surface is not absorbing hence the paint glides on the surface.
issue is that i can not paint over the portion i painted few minutes back.
neither do i know if i am correctly dressing the brush with medium (alkyd)
many times the brush stroke i end with is not covering the surface
could you please help ?

Reply

Will Kemp November 25, 2015

Hi Liya, it might just be the absorbency of that particular canvas, if you have another canvas of the same brand try applying a coat of gesso to the canvas first and then start the painting.

Cheers,
Will

Reply

liya November 28, 2015

hi will kemp
thanks for your prompt reply
when i watch art videos on portrait oil painting the artist go over the painted area more than once to correct the value or hue of the color.i am wondering how it happens as the wet surface having the oil paint on lets the next coat of paint come in without mixing up or sliding. when the artist applies the next coat of paint, it simply gets absorbed.
would you please clarify this point ?

Thanks a ton for all your hep

Regards
Liya

Reply

Will Kemp December 2, 2015

Hi Liya, it’s all dependent on the amount of paint on the brush, the thickness of the paint underneath, the softness of bristle of the brush and the amount of pressure used to apply the paint.

If you imagine a jam sandwich (stay with me here!) and you apply butter to the bread, and then apply jam ontop.

If you apply a small amount of jam and spread hard with the knife it will mix in with the butter, whereas if you have lots of jam on the knife and apply lightly over the butter you won’t disturb the layer underneath – it’s exactly the same principle with painting.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Will

Reply

David October 7, 2016

I have the home-studio I’ve wanted since I was a kid. I filled it with canvas, oils, watercolors, essentially, everything I would use, a vast array of art materials I know I’ll use. Now that I’m getting older and am able to commit to the canvas, I found that my painting techniques disappeared and I’ve gained perspective while pushing the child-like artwork aside (good and not-so). I began searching for classes to refine my own style, as an adult. Since moving to this new area years ago, I’m not familiar with the local universities so I was somewhat open to do virtual classes though I do much better when I can ask questions, however, finding your website was like a mega lightbulb going off in-front of me! In my home and next to easels that I’m working, your text and videos are helping me so much! You’ve already taught me how to adjust my overhead lights (& spot lights) and THAT has made a HUGE impact while painting, THEN, you broadly explained why I continue to run into the same issues over and over again, it’s not so much a painting issue as it’s a DRAWING issue! Your words CLICKED as though I was inside a classroom ! At the moment, I’m typing you while a major hurricane (Hurricane Matthew) is literally impacting my area in South Florida and when all businesses are closed and all people are safely tucked away, I knew I would get to watch your portrait video (and others), FULLY. I’ve always wanted to paint portraits that resemble the subjects however each time I’ve constructed a portrait, the areas were great when viewed individually, however, the areas didn’t fit together properly (for instance, the head, arms, torso, all look fine until I put them together) and now I’m learning, from you, why that is and have already leaped over many years of great abstract/impressionistic paintings though now I see the paintings with the addition of realistic perspective. Thank you ! I look forward to enrolling in drawing & oil/canvas through your website!

Reply

Will Kemp October 7, 2016

Hi David, so pleased you’ve been finding the lessons helpful and seeing the benefits of concentrating on the drawing into your paintings and portraits. Great that the studio lighting article helped and hope you’re keeping safe with Hurricane Matthew!
Will

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: