22 August 2009

Portrait Painting with the Zorn Palette II

Another portrait using the Zorn palette. You may recognize the warrior Adam from an earlier post. Decided to use a photo reference of that pose for my second painting in the Portrait Painting Fundamentals class.

I used an underpainting again which, as I see it, offers many benefits for the beginner.
  • It starts your painting off right with correct proportions, shapes, and values.
  • As a value study, the underpainting allows you to consider what you are going for compositionally before you start pouring on the paint. Better than just diving in and figuring out the plan as you go.
  • Most important for me, I use the underpainting stage to closely observe how the light falls across the form; where to push the lights and darks and how to handle the halftones (value-wise). It forces me to take a long, hard look at my subject.
  • If you have a bad start or have trouble with a section you can wipe the canvas back to the underpainting and try again. Easy.
Regarding this painting, I didn't finish the clothing/chin straps because I needed to move on to other pieces. I followed earlier advice about rendering metal (hard edges and shapes around the highlights; no curves) which worked pretty well. The instructor advised me to add more contrast and red around the eyes and put more paint on the canvas, which I will do next time. The overpainting was done in a single 6-hour session.

On another topic, I'm passing along this article on Jacob Collins. Thought it was a good read. I stopped by the incomparable John Pence Gallery while in San Francisco a few weekends ago. Saw some of Collins' pieces there, which renewed my interest in his work.

Adam 2009, 12 x 9, oil on canvas board


  1. Hello, Candace, another nice Zorn method painting! Will you be sticking with this process?

  2. Tina, Thanks for visiting. I just left your blog. Very nice portrait there.

    I think I am going to continue with this palette for a while. The limited palette lets me focus on all the other challenges of learning to paint, without having to deal with color mixing, too. Once I get a bit better at the basics I'll add more colors.

  3. Great painting and I appreciate the information you have on your blog.

  4. Thanks, David. Much appreciated.

  5. Great painting - glad to read you will continue on it. The earlier peice is so so so solid ...jea.lous.

  6. Hi, probably our entry may be off topic but anyways, I have been surfing around your blog and it looks very professional. It’s obvious you know your topic and you appear fervent about it. I’m developing a fresh blog plus I’m struggling to make it look good, as well as offer the best quality content. I have learned much at your web site and also I anticipate alot more articles and will be coming back soon. Thanks you.

    Portrait Painting