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My first oil portrait.

edited February 2013 in Post Your Paintings
I've re-counted in my head exactly how many oil paintings I've ever done before finding Mark's videos and the number is two completed and two unfinished, all more than 10 years ago. I've never spent more than one hour on an oil painting in my life and if I were to show you these first "attempts" you would honestly laugh out loud as they are a total joke. I have been truly inspired by Mark's videos and by you people on this forum. I put together every bit of what Mark recommends and, having no bad habits to break, I followed Marks method to a tee. After about three hours of work on this painting, I almost threw it away. I was so upset when I went to bed that night, I couldn't sleep. My wife felt so sorry for me. I wouldn't even let her see the painting. My initial color groups were completely wrong and proved basically useless throughout the process, so I ended up having to mix every color from scratch. That was very hard. But I started getting the hang of it and in the end, I think I got a lot of valuable practice from mixing all that color. I never gave up. I NEVER GAVE UP. This painting may not look like much to some of the more talented artists on this forum but let me say that I could not be prouder of this painting of my niece. I wouldn't sell it for 10 thousand bucks. I feel like sending Mark a bottle of wine and a fine cigar. It took me 7 days to cover 12 x 16 inches and I thought I might pull my hair out but here it is:


  • openwyder

    Excellent work! You have captured a superb likeness and a beautiful expression.
    I admire your efforts to overcome the initial color mix problems. I assume this was the skin tones? Do you have any general advice about getting the mix right?

    I usually end up with values looking too chalky as a result of too much white.

    Congratulations on a fine portrait. It's value will only increase in succeeding years.

  • First, what a beautiful young lady. Second what a beautiful nailed the likeness! Her big smile is matched by the smile of her eyes...I just love it! Painting teeth right off the bat is a tough challenge....well done! You should be extremely proud of your effort and the results....your dedication, hard work and persistence really paid off. Congratulations! =D>

    Sounds to me like you learned a huge lesson....carefully pick your color groups and, being even more careful, take the time to mix those colors. We're all excited to paint but early patience saves time, produces better paintings and results in more fun. I love to mix colors and with time, patience and practice, you will get faster and better in a relatively short time. :)
  • Oh my! What a story to go along with this painting. I know exactly how you feel and I so commend you for your persistence. You must feel a great sense of satisfaction, at least I hope you do.

    Now... the painting. Of course you should be so proud of it. It is so fabulous. Your drawing spot on, teeth, shadows, eyes, hair, it's all great! So well done and I am so happy for you!
  • edited February 2013
    @dencal Thanks for looking. My problem arose because I tried to use a piece of plastic that was too thick over the photo for color checking. So it skewed every step/color I was mixing for each group very badly. I only figured it out once I started to paint. I didn't have the willpower to start the process over as I wasn't even really sure that the problem had arisen from the thick plastic. So I just started mixing the darkest part of the face and eyes and mixed colors on the fly from then on. Then, once I had taped a piece of thin plastic on the photo, I started to notice that if you press a little harder with the brush on the plastic (giving it a thicker bit of paint) there is a big difference in value and color. If you just touch the plastic, there is a lighter value and the color is harder to judge. I'm not sure if pressing a little harder though is correct or not but it seemed to help me be more consistent. I didn't find skin to be any different from hair though, it all seems like just another color after a while.

    @Gary Thanks for the encouraging words. I took that photo while we all together for the holidays and I did think it was a good choice for making a portrait. I did, until I got to the mouth. You are correct, teeth are very tricky and baby teeth, I think, may be the trickiest. I do think being a dentist helped me a great deal with that part of the painting as I really understand the anatomy. Nevertheless, I'll think twice before I choose another photo with a mouth full of teeth showing. As for color groups; next time I'll be able to mix the color groups fairly easily I'd guess, having mixed every dang color in this painting right form the five puddles I dumped on the palette to start with. It will be a welcome sight to look down at a palette that has premixed colors that actually have something to do with the painting I'm working on. Have a look at what my palette looked like when I was done:
  • edited February 2013
    This painting is amazing for your first. I agree with Denis, and Gary. Congrats are truly in order. <:-P =D> =D> Your niece is a beautiful young girl. You've captured her extremely well!!!! For your first...she and the rendering is GORGEOUS!!!

    Truthfully!!! This is a fabulous painting, and it's only the beginning. Also pretty darn fast for a your first portrait. Sorry you when through the pain, but finish is extraordinary. Bravo!

    She reminds me a little of a young Meg Ryan. Cute hair cut. :)

    Excellent Work Opn, Excellent Work!

    Oh, do you plan on painting the back of glass the stain color you used for the canvas?
  • Just want to add my congratulations to the others. I think you did a great job and I am sure you don't yet realize all you have learned on this painting. You will have a much easier time with each new painting. John
  • edited February 2013
    @sue_deutscher Thanks, I think I'll try a still life next!

    @cynthiagwilson Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I think next time I'll be able to relax a little more at least. I had gotten my hopes up and had really so much wanted to have some level of success with this painting that I kind of pressured myself a bit too much. I felt like if I was ever going to 'turn the corner' and start creating some presentable art in oil, this was going to have to be the starting point. So maybe now I can paint one without thinking my entire art 'career' is on the line. :D I am planning on painting the underside of the palette glass, I just HAD to get started on this painting or I was going to blow a gasket!

    -Scot White
  • @jag Thanks for the compliments and yes, I really am hoping the next one goes a little more smoothly. Mostly for my wife's sake, since she has to live with me. :D
  • What a fantastic first portrait! Well done.
  • Thank you for sharing your process - you did a great job with the painting as well as the description. My only little criticism is that I think you shouldn't have lost the little swoops of hair on the left. I think they add to the personality and give visual interest to the edge on the left side.
  • Scot, Just want to add my congratulations to the others. Wonderful job, I just wish I could do as well as you. I like to paint but know I will never be a great painter. One question-What did you wife say when she saw it?
  • Well done Scot, what a lovely portrait! You have got the likeness spot on! Lovely smile and the eyes are alive, love it! =D>
    You say your colors and values weren`t right on the plastic over the photo. I remember a long while back, Mark telling someone who had the same trouble, that they possibly needed to adjust the studio lights. Maybe he or someone with the experience, can comment on that!
    With the problems you had, 7 days is good going in my book! Very well done. =D>
  • tjstjs -
    edited February 2013
    I think you got an excellent replica of likeness to the photo. Working from a photo straight away is very hard. And doing people is extremely hard. So good for you!!!

    Couple things that might help? I found when working from a photo if you print off your reference photo using a good semi-gloss photo paper I could put my dabs of color right onto it and it wipes off perfectly.

    When I first started painting from photos I had by accident bought the semi-gloss photo paper. I had just moved my jars of mixed paints and had a touch of white on my hand when I handled the photo. I was like 'damn, now I gotta print this over again'. I thought I could use it as a backup and went to wipe off the glob of paint but to my surprise it came off perfectly.

    Steps? I guess that's up to you. I never do more than 8. You can always adjust each little pile as you go? Little bit of this or that. If I mix more than that? I loose track of what goes where anyway.

    Just take it slow. My first Carder Method painting I did nothing but mix my palette for three days!!! But I learned sooo much. And with each one it got easier and faster. After about 4 or 5, I rarely used the color checker anymore.

    You have a great likeness and good for you. You should be extremely proud of what you have done here! Oil painting is not easy and I think you did an awesome job. ^:)^ :-c ^:)^

    BTW your niece is ABSOLUTELY adorable! I'd paint her in a heartbeat :)
  • I'm always impressed when I see this kind of beginning, I'm sure that will push you to continue I love it well done! :-bd
    Ciao Maria
  • Well done!! I think we can all relate to your color mixing story... and I assure you after a few paintings you will just automaticaly reach for the right colors to mix and not even think about it... it will become second nature.
    You niece is adorable and you have every reason to be a proud uncle and a proud painter.
    As far as painting from a photo... I have to disagree with tjs... I think it is very important to print on high gloss photo paper for your reference.. especially when mixing your colors. I paint from photo's 90% of the time now and no longer use the plastic over the photo... when I need to check a color I put a dab of what I think is the correct color mix on a piece of black construction paper and place it next to the area on the photo I want to check.
    I commend you for following Mark's suggestions to the T... it has certainly paid off and I look forward to seeing the next! WEll DONE!! :-bd
  • Fantastic for your first oil portrait!!! :) :) :)
  • Nice portrait, great job!
  • edited February 2013
    Thanks to everyone for posting all these encouragements, I appreciate you taking the time to look my painting over and comment.

    @gary I know this piece of advice is important. I can tell from looking closely at your paintings. I'm hoping sometime in the future to paint on your level. I think I was beginning to know what you mean about enjoying the mixing process as I got further along in this painting. I think having a little more confidence that I am able to actually mix the right color will make it more enjoyable. I do intend to paint the back of the glass palettes the same color as the canvas. That is basically the only suggestion I didn't manage to get completed prior to starting this painting. I didn't want to wait on it to dry!

    @edward I completely agree with you about the little hair "flips" on the left side of the photo. To be honest I just couldnt figure out how to make it look realistic. Thanks for looking closely enough to notice that, I was hoping to get away with it without being found out.

    @studioania Thanks, I honestly can't wait to start another painting.

    @susieq Thanks for the complements. Honestly what I've done here is more about following instructions very closely than it is about "talent". I believe that if you are unhappy with the results you are getting, a good exercise would be to simply go through your process and try to identify where it differs from Mark's advice. I bet if you can identify a couple of areas where you are not doing just exactly as he advises, you will find better results by changing those things. By the way, I didn't let my wife see the painting until I had completed it. She is so supportive of my 'endeavors' that it's hard to judge what she really thinks but she really acted like she loved it. She made me send a photo of it to her brother (my subject's father) immediately!

    @tjs Thanks, I really hope to paint like you and the other phenomenal artists on this forum in the fuiture. This idea of no-plastic-color-checking is intriguing. I actually did dab paint on my 'backup' photo a time or two and it did wipe off just fine. I wondered at the time if maybe it might start to damage the photo if I did it too much. I may try that approach next time as it makes more sense to me. :D

    @shirley_seput Thanks so much for your complimentary words, it means a lot to me coming from such an accomplished artist as yourself. So you are kind of using a modified "color checker" like the one Mark uses for still lifes, only using paper. why do you not dab the paint right on the glossy photo like tjs does? Is a glossy photo more easily damaged or...? I'm very interested in this subject because I found the plastic over the photo to be a bit troublesome at times.

    @jonny Thanks, in Marks' portrait video he really makes a big deal out of maintaining the keypoints for a good likeness. I followed those recommendations religiously and in the end I feel like the likeness was there. Mark's advice gives results! My original plastic was really thick, like almost an eighth of an inch. I actually bought the 5000k lighting and installed it at thirty degrees behind and above my easel like Mark recommends. Once I switched over to paper thin plastic, things got better right away. Unfortunately, I had already spent hours mixing color groups at that point and they were hopelessly wrong. Live and learn....

    @mark_carder Mr. Carder, I want to thank you one more time for the wealth of very reliable information you have offered. Using your advice and instructions, I was able to paint something that I never would have been able to otherwise. I feel so comfortable that I can do better work in the future and I'm eager to try. If your intention is to motivate, inspire and enthuse, you have succeeded in doing so with me. Thank you.
  • edited February 2013
    Scot, oh, my god, brother! This is fantastic. I know that there is something seriously wrong with me because just reading your story about it has left me with a heavy feeling in my chest... my eyes are a little watery. Seriously. :) The painting is fantastic but I think it's more to do with how you feel about it. Your determination has paid off and it will only get better and better, I promise. I echo everything everyone else said, especially Gary, a beautiful subject and your enthusiasm and passion have captured the essence of that beauty. Whatever it is that you want to move to from here, whether with this painting or in the next is really just a matter of technical nuance and patience. You have demonstrated that you can do it. And it goes get easier in terms of the paint and frustration you felt. :)

    I already posted this but wanted to add a couple of things. I only recently just painted the back of my palettes the same color as the canvas, as Mark suggested. I'm not sure if it helps or not but I didn't like them clear. For a while they were mid-value gray. That was fine too.

    In terms of mixing, I know it can seem laborious and time consuming ... but for me it's going quicker and quicker all the time. What took me six hours when I first started six or seven paintings ago, now takes me about an hour. Also, I find that listening to music really helps both when mixing and painting. I have Pandora and for the Maz painting was listening to FUNK the entire time... or much of it anyway when I wasn't filming it. I found myself using paint brushes as drum sticks inbetween making strokes, or as a celebratory activity after completing something especially difficult. :)

    By the way, I have this pain in a molar on the left side when I eat popcorn.... :)

    Great job!
  • edited February 2013
    @garrykravit Thank you, your opinion is important to me and I'm really glad you can see some good things about this painting. I am enthused to hear that the process will get easier because honestly, this was hard. It really was getting easier even during the course of just this painting so I know you are right about that.

    Funny you mention music during painting. I had a playlist that I created for the purpose and I intentionally made it 1 and a half hours long. When the playlist was finished I'd take a break. I really have to get up and get away from the painting every so often or else my judgment seems to get a bit cloudy. But I have music playing the entire time.....

    By the way if you want to fly to Indianapolis, I'd be happy to have a look at your tooth. :))

    -Scot White
  • "Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment." Claude Monet :)
  • Scot... if you put wet paint on a glossy photo reference it will remove the ink when you wip it off. The matt photo like tjs was talking about will not do that. But I believe the high gloss gives much truer colors. Especially the shadows. Hope this is not too confusing. :D
  • @shirley_seput No,it isn't confusing, it's very interesting. I want to try each of these ideas and see how they work for me. Thanks for explaining.
  • You should be ecstatic with this being Your first portrait lol.. Give yourself a break. This just shows how thorough and effective the DMP method is. Great job and keep working!!
  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    edited February 2013
    @opnwyder Why didn't you mix steps in color groups etc? I noticed your palette is all over the place?
  • edited February 2013
    @Mark_Carder I spent a few hours mixing color groups but I did so using a very thick piece of plastic on the front of the photo for checking color. I tried to use one of those plastic display things that realtors use to set up a photo when you walk into an open house. Well, when you combine that mistake with my total 'newby-ness', you get several nice piles of paint that have absolutely nothing to do with the photo or the painting you are about to begin. I was a long way in (mixing) before I figured it all out and switched over to some paper thin plastic on the front of my photo for color checking. At that point I just decided to start mixing every color I needed from scratch and thats what I did. I really think it was good practice. I bet I can mix color groups now pretty easily. We'll see. Thanks for asking.
  • edited February 2013
    By the way, I know I really liked seeing the 'work in progress' shots that people posted so I took some photos as I was doing this painting. I kind of had the white balance on my camera set wrong without noticing for all but the final photo but here is a 40 second video of the WIP's

  • Thanks for the video Scott....very interesting! :)
  • @Mark_Carder You can see the useless piles of paint I mixed in the lower right side of this photo. :D
  • Awesome job! Really thrilled for you and hope you are giving yourself a big pat on the back. =D> Loved the video too.
  • opnwyder that's an amazing easel.
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