Category Archives: video

Alla Prima Portrait Sketch

Hi Gang,

Welcome to DG Paints. In this video I am painting myself by looking at a mirror set beside, and slightly behind, my easel. I have also hung a gray piece of fabric behind me to simplify the background.

In the first ten minutes I try to block out a fairly accurate drawing. Note these first marks are made with a soft filbert brush. I’m laying the paint on very thinly. You can see once I lay down a ghosty image I reinforce and correct it with a second darker pass.

This painting took me 160 minutes. I think it’s important to note that in the first hour I used nothing but a no. 10 filbert hog bristle brush. This is something I’ve had to learn with lots of practice. Many of you know I often favor small brushes in my usual work. But for alla prima I’m learning to use something larger. I can cover more real estate more quickly. I do as much as I possibly can with this one brush. I don’t switch to a smaller brush until I can’t go any further with the big one.

Each brush stroke is loaded. I’m laying down opaque paint. In the beginning you can see me “patching around”. What I’m doing is finding my value and color key. I’m also making sure my drawing is working out, correcting as needed as I go. So each stroke includes three decisions: value, color, and position.

Smaller brushes aren’t employed until the larger, simpler form is established. Smaller brushes are used to refine and create form nuances within the larger structure. Very small, softer brushes are used toward the end to tackle some critical areas of detail, mostly around the features.

Ninety-five percent of this sketch was done using hog bristle filberts. I employed some softer red sable brushes for subtlety and key detail.


Brushes: hog bristle filberts, red sable filberts

Palette: titanium white, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, terra rosa, transparent red oxide, raw umber, ivory black, quinacridone violet, ultramarine blue, viridian

Canvas: Centurion LX (oil primed)

Medium: a mixture of half walnut oil and half mineral spirits (only as needed)

I will be teaching this method in Brattleboro, Vermont at the end of this month. We have a couple of spots left. Please consider joining us. You can find out more by emailing Andrea Scheidler at

Happy Painting!


Real Time Underdrawing in Oil

Today I am starting a painting with a slightly more advanced method of beginning. No toned canvas and no careful drawing in charcoal. I am using Raw Umber thinned with OMS on acrylic primed hardboard. You can see that I am measuring but in a different way. You can tell that every mark I make is executed with extreme care. I am visually measuring distances; constantly comparing the spaces between such landmarks as hairline, bottom of the chin, etc.

I really wanted to give you the gist of how careful I am when I start the process. During the last workshop I taught I was just amazed by how quickly (and inaccurately) the students were laying down paint. If you want to be a realist you must train yourself to sssllooooooowww down and make marks that you can be reasonable sure are accurate. Double check and triple check your measurements before moving on to the next one.

If you are still relatively new to this type of painting I still advocate careful comparative measuring with some sort of measuring tool such as a knitting needle (my preference) and drawing with vine charcoal (also my preference). When you have many paintings under your belt with this method you can start to try the way I am demonstrating here in this video.

Below is an image of the finished painting entitled “De la Tour’s Child”.

ws_delatourschild (720x535)

Demo — Painting the Portrait

In this piece I decided to do a more involved underdrawing in vine charcoal on toned canvas (which I spray-fixed). There are basically three reasons for this.1.) In a double portrait things get even more tricky needing to have the two faces and bodies in proper proportion to each other. I decided to take a little extra time with the drawing to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any unpleasant surprises later. 2.) I just really enjoy drawing and I found myself getting involved in the process. Normally I fight that feeling because of time restraints, but I gave in this time. 3.) I like to do things a little different from time to time. When it comes to art making I am a firm believer in having a good solid method (that works) to fall back on if and when things go awry. But, as you know, we artists have to mix it up now and then. Granted, I’m not drawing here hanging from a chandelier or anything like it, but it did lead me to get out of my comfort zone, which I will explain next.

What’s so uncomfortable about a locked in underdrawing you say? Well, it caused me to forgo my normal underpainting and put everything I had on the line to properly execute the overpainting without the safety of a basic color scheme laid in. Sure, I could have done an underpainting. In fact, I started to do so. But I found that the underdrawing was sound enough not to need it. Also, there was a sort of “grisaille” in place as well due to my blocking in the essential value pattern with the charcoal (not just the contour, which is my normal method). So I just went after it. I do want to note that I have painted like compositions with like color schemes before. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary in terms of subject or color. If I would have been, I probably would have laid in an underpainting, or at least done a color study (or two).

In painting this way, it’s even more important to “keep those drawing chops working” (as I’ve said before). And it’s critical to constantly evaluate your relative values and colors. It’s too bad that the quality of video I’m currently using does not really show the color nuances that are present. In the real thing there are differing levels of chroma and neutrality as well as subtle differences in local color; all of which help to give life to the portrait and increase it’s illusion of “presence” or “reality”.

Thank you for reading this lengthy accompaniment to the video. And thanks for watching.

Until next time…