Portrait Painting with Oil: Chris Saper Shares Her Knowledge

Chris Saper isn’t new to ArtistsNetwork. We’ve featured her portrait paintings in The Artist’s Magazine, welcomed her as a host for online events, and worked with her to publish her work in a book format. Saper has even produced four instructional videos with ArtistsNetwork.tv on how to paint portraits. I’ve asked her to tell us about this exciting new Professional Portraiture collection. ~Cherie

Oil painting for beginners with Chris Saper

Above, left: Joan (torrit grey oil, monochrome life study, 20×16). Above, right: Julie (oil, life study in warm light, 20×16).

New Ways to Learn Oil Portrait Painting by Chris Saper

The art of portrait painting isn’t just drenched in rich history–it continues to challenge and fascinate artists of all ages and backgrounds and, no doubt, will continue to do so as long as we continue as a civilization. Yet the process can be as overwhelming to the beginner as it is frustrating to the professional artist. With the four DVDs included here, I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned over the past 24 years as a commissioned portrait painter and to make the learning process logical and easy to understand by using both demonstration and the spoken word. Three DVDs demonstrate painting the oil portrait, and in each you’ll find information on how to size and place the figure, how to achieve a likeness and how to create the illusion of three dimensions on a 2-dimensional surface.

Oil portrait painting by Chris Saper

Percy (oil, life study in cool light, 20×16). Click here to “pin” the study of Percy onto your Pinterest board.

There is a method, at least, to my madness, and for the serious student I’d recommend sequencing study in this order.

Capturing the Beauty of Monochrome Oils is an excellent starting point for beginning painters, for artists who are transitioning in oils from another medium and for established artists wanting to refresh their work. It’s been said that while color gets all the credit, value does all the work. So very true! My companion digital book, Mostly Monochrome includes demonstrations not just in monochrome oils, but also in five other monochrome mediums.

Next, How to Paint Skin Tones in Oil is an in-depth tutorial on seeing, understanding and mixing oils to paint skin tones for six different models, focusing on understanding color both in light and in the ever-elusive shadows of the face. This DVD has been designed to be helpful for all oil painters, especially during the preparation stage of painting in color. With this instruction, artists will get even more out of the two remaining DVDs, which include portrait demonstrations in warm and cool light situations.

Painting Oil Portraits in Warm Light and Painting Oil Portraits in Cool Light both reinforce principles of design, placement, likeness, sizing the figure on the ground, materials, edge management and the rationale for color mixing in different lighting situations, as well as with lots of useful tips on bringing pigment to life with the human hand. The color temperature of the light on your subject–its Kelvin temperature–informs every color decision you’ll make in both light and shadow, and I can’t overstate how important it is to paint from life in order to see those color differences. Painting from photo references simply won’t provide you with the color information you’ll need to make your portraits as convincing as they can be. With the practice you‘ll gain from life study, you’ll be well-equipped to overcome the limitations inherent in painting from photo reference material, which is the focus of my book, Classic Portrait Painting in Oils: Keys to Mastering Diverse Skin Tones.

I hope you’ll enjoy these publications as much as I enjoyed creating them. It’s a beautiful world out there. Someone has to paint it, and it might as well be you. ~ C.S.

Editor’s Note: Nearly all of these resources are included in the Chris Saper Professional Portrait Collection. Save 45% when you order your set today.

You may also like these articles:

COMMENT