Of all the many varied ways an oil portrait painting  can be built , I would like to  call attention to the legacy that the Old World Masters from the 1600s has left us. This would be from my viewpoint as a painter and how I have tailored it.

Although I use photography for the references for my oil portraits so that people (especially children and pets ) don’t have to sit around, the following method is straight from the 1600s:  Looking at my references I draw what I see onto the canvas. After that comes a wash of thin brown and white oil paint to establish the tones (lights and darks) of the composition. Then layers of thicker, opaque paint, but still in the monochrome palette. Sometimes I keep painting in brown and white until all the details  are figured out, which  isin tune with what one can see of Rembrandt’s, Tintoretto’s, and Velasquez’s work . However, other times, I  apply the opaque painting of details with color instead of with brown and white paints.  After the painting is fully establlished, I apply  very thin, almost transparent—or at least transluscent, coats of colored paint. These seem to give the painting a glow because of the way the light is refracted through each layer. Refracted means that the light changes direction as it goes through different substances.

My cousin Norman Rockwell used the idea behind this method in a different way to make his Saturday Evening Post Covers. He sketched out his ideas in charcoal on paper—in great detail— to establish the arrangement and the tonal values (lights and darks). After doing that, he roughed in a small color painting in oil on canvas. Then ultimately he made the final large oil painting on a new canvas.

 Jessica Rockwell, cousin to Norman Rockwell, has made her living as an artist all of her adult life. Early on, as a high school student, her talent in art was rewarded with a full scholarship from the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. She afterwards received her BFA and MFA & travelled Europe extensively. She has specialized as a realistic oil portrait artist for the last 20 years. Over 100 of her portraits and an Emmy award-winning video on how she paints a portrait may be seen at http://www.rockwellportraits.com. You can email her for the price of your special portrait at info101@rockwellportraits.com or call her at 800-729-6084. 

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