Painting Hair with Kevin Muente

This is an excerpt from John A. Parks’s article “The Landscape of Loss” in The Artist’s Magazine, March 2014 issue. If you enjoy it, please consider subscribing here for 10 full issues per year (available on iPad as well)!

Painting Hair
by Kevin Muente

“Whether painting grass or hair, you have to find your rhythm.” ~Kevin Muente

Phase One

Phase One

Phase One: I use a similar technique to paint hair and grass, but this demonstration is for hair. After I’ve decided on the shape of the head and have examined the overall dimensions (the width and the length), I feel ready to paint the area. Notice the line across the back of the head and the outline of the hair line.

 

Phase Two

Phase Two

Phase Two: I look for interesting shapes and start to add the first dark shadow shapes to create a more three-dimensional effect. I then work my way to the lighter values. I start mixing my colors.

 

Phase Three

Phase Three

Phase Three: At this stage, you can note three different values. The darkest, which I applied first, contains a bit of purple. The second darkest is more of a dark brown, and the third value is close to a middle gray.

 

Phase Four

Phase Four

Phase Four: I now add the medium and lighter value shapes. Warm, yellowish brown starts to give the hair a dirty blonde feel, while the addition of some light blues at the crown of the head suggest the sky’s reflection in the hair.

 

Phase Five

Phase Five

Phase Five: I use a pin-striping brush to add in a few dark hairs. I then add more individual hairs of medium value and a few lighter strands. (I use the same technique for painting grass.)

 

Phase Six

Phase Six

Phase Six: I merge and soften some edges with a trusty fan brush. I also try to brush the hair in the direction it would flow in real life, as if it were being combed.

 

Phase Seven

Phase Seven

Phase Seven: Fan brushing always helps. (If the hair seems to get over-blended in an area or two, it isn’t a problem, as long as you understand that it’s part of the procedure.) After the fan brushing, I go in and sharpen a few edges and throw in a few more thin hairs. I also finish painting the figure’s profile, adding a few strokes on top of the cheek to push it back into space. Remember to paint things as you really see them. In the case of hair, forget driver’s license descriptions: hair is never just “brown” or “blonde,” but a multitude of colors.

Smoke Signals (oil, 48x60) by Kevin Muente

Smoke Signals (oil, 48×60) by Kevin Muente

 

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