Demonstration of  portraits in oils

By Mike Skidmore


Mike started the evening with a talk about his history with painting, and the way he evolved his techniques to emulate the traditional methods of the masters using many layers of glazeing. He prefers to work directly with a subject in front of him, often for several sessions. Where this is not possible and use of photographs is neccessitated, he insists on taking his own photographs from the same viewpoint as he would be for a live painting session.

As his methods are not ideal for a short demonstration, he started using acrylic for the initial layers since these dry quickly. He then followed this with conventional oils.

Some photos of his demonstration are shown below.

The original photograph

The drawing was done on board and covered by a light wash of acrylic burnt umber


The underlying drawing was then painted over with acrylic burnt umber. When dry, some tones were added to the face and colour applied to the hat. This was then allowed to dry.

The figure was then overpainted with a dark glaze of oil paint.

Using a clean dry cloth, the glaze was selectedly removed to restore the tones. This would not be possible using acrylic paints. The painting would then be allowed to dry for about two days then another layer of coloured glaze would be applied. This process would be repeated to build up the completed portrait.


Mike Skidmore in an ebullient moment.