Oil Painting: Garth Herrick Portrait Demo: The Underdrawing

Garth Herrick oil portrait

In the second installment of the demonstration, Herrick tones his canvas and begins blocking in the heads of the children.

I didn’t do a drawing—I did most of my thinking with the camera and Photoshop, and then I just jumped right into things. It would be nice to work out colors and composition, but I tend to be impatient.

Garth Herrick oil portrait

Garth Herrick oil portrait Garth Herrick oil portrait

I toned my 80”-x-52” preprimed canvas by rubbing it down with a combination of colors—using paint scraped off my palette—to create a green-gray neutral base. (I do things differently every time I start a project.) I started to block in the portrait with thin washes of green umber, referring to the photo on my 30-inch computer monitor. This imprimatura was dark—about the same value as a Kodak Gray Card—but given the sun-dappled nature of the image being painted, this middle value seemed like a good place to start.

I began with the heads, indicating them with lines and washes. At this stage I just wanted to map out the composition. I marked positions with a tape measure, using the brush like a marking tool—everything was eyeballed. I found a junction of a couple lines or shapes and marked that spot. Then I drew the shapes radiating from that point.

Garth Herrick oil portrait Garth Herrick oil portrait Garth Herrick oil portrait Garth Herrick oil portrait

Check back weekly to view the next step in Herrick's process. To view the demonstration from the beginning, CLICK HERE.

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About the Artist
Garth Herrick was a semifinalist in the Smithsonian Institution’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and was awarded a certificate of excellence by the Portrait Society of America at their 2006 International Portrait Competition. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he received the William Emlen Cresson Memorial Traveling Scholarship, the Stewardson Prize, and the Thouron Prize. Herrick’s commissions include portraits of eight notable federal judges, a governor, a mayor and numerous cultural, educational, and business leaders. His work hangs in a number of public, corporate, and private collections. View his work at www.garthherrick.com.

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