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Painting technique questions..

With my first oil painting and also many digital paintings, I do the following, not a conscious decision, I just became aware that it's what I'm doing: My first pass of an object or face is to block in main values and colors, getting as near to accurate as I can. I then blend this out. A lot. The next pass is restating the values and edges that were blended out in the first pass. Again, I try to be accurate. Some blending on this second pass, but not as much as first. Third pass is for fine details and highlights mostly.  

Does anyone else have a similar approach? What disadvantages would there be to this? Is this dissimilar to Mark's method, or just a different take on it?

Is this approach going to hinder my development of a "painterly" look since I'm working it so much? Will "one pass" Alla prima painting just happen as my skills develop?


  • I've been wondering about this recently too as I'm about to start my first painting and I think what youre doing is not marks method. I get the impression people are hesitant or afraid to abandon the methods they feel safe with to really try what mark suggests, but if you go for it you will learn and will probably be impressed with the results. Have you seen the video where mark paints the pear?
  • Part of the fear for me is that I have a couple nice pictures with compositions that I really like and don't want to mess up :P
  • Movealonghome,
    Yes, the pear video was first one I that one. But my (hypothetical) first pass pear doesn't look like Mark's beautiful pear. So, I blend that out, and try another pass. Is this really a departure from his method? Should I just throw out the canvas if I don't get a pleasing result on first pass? I don't know, maybe I should if I really want to be able to paint in one pass..
  • Mark's method is to try to do it all in one go, with blending only at the end. This is to reduce the tendency we can have to overblend and lose sharpness and muddy values.

    Do you have a photo of the first pass pear? If you get the values right and the shapes roughly right it should work well in just one pass.
  • There is also Mark's videos on painting a tin cup and painting a still life where he demonstrates and explains this.
  • DawnTup

    No need to sweat over the procedural steps, there are many valid paths to realist portraiture.
    Mark teaches a clear and achievable method. Following that way for a couple of paintings lays down a solid understanding of the practice and principles. Mark always stresses that it is understood you will want to develop your own way of doing things. There is much to be gained by immersion in the Carder method as a foundation to build your skills and repertoire. Be flexible, adaptable and develop your artistic dream by standing on the shoulders of the great teachers.


  • Denis

    Thank you, you are becoming my art mentor...
  • DawnTup

    GULP! ... I am an eternal student here, learning as I go. :#


  • Yes agree with dencal mark clearly states his method is for learning to paint and may not always be the method you chose to paint, and to keep trying to paint your masterpiece. From just what I have seen of your paintings you are way ahead of the game and have a phenomenal grasp of painting realism so your method/style of painting works incredibly well.
  • Mark's method wasn't something he dreamed up over a weekend to drum up customers for his video. He's been teaching for many years before developing the method he now uses. He states very clearly that this is a method to LEARN how to paint realism and is primarily for people who don't know which end of the brush to dip in the paint. Amazingly, many painters who had been struggling with other methods (like Me) found this method helped them achieve what they'd been looking for. It's harder for artists who've been happy with their own work but want better realism to adapt to Mark's method.

    One thing I can assure you of (as a novice) I never understood values and I was always struggling with color mixing. Oh yeah I could never do any thing bigger than a postcard without losing perspective and proportions. The first three videos on DMP cleared all that up for me. Don't throw away anything yet you may still find what you are looking for.
    So @Dawntup, to blend or not to blend?
  • Thank you all @DawnTup ,@Richard_P, @dencal , @jswartzart and @BOB73 for reminding us and clearing this matter up, very kind and generous. Very much appreciated! So glad to be a learning student!
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