My Process of Painting Hayley

Updated: Nov 3, 2018



I should start by stating that I haven’t had any painting lessons or training I just started using oils at the age of 17 with very little help or research. The way that I paint, I’m sure some will say is “incorrect”. It’s just the way that I instinctively go about things, and I’m sure it will continue to change and develop!


Hayley’s portrait was commissioned to be painted in colours similar to my self-portraits, “Parched” and “How Long is a Piece of String?”


I begin by taking a photo...

As Hayley doesn’t live near me and works many hours, it was most practical (as in most cases) to work from a photo rather than life. For the best outcome, it’s important to have a good quality photo reference with visible details and distinctive shadow & light to create depth in the portrait. I think natural lighting works best. I visited Hayley to take the photo using a DSLR, with light from the window hitting one side of her face.


With a pencil outline drawn, I start by painting the eyes...

I paint the eyes first as they’re the most important feature in capturing a person. You can often recognise someone from just their eyes. They’re also often the most intricate part of the portrait to paint, and I like to focus on getting them right before thinking about the rest of the face.


Pan out...

Rather than building the piece up in layers, I like to work on one section at a time. I work on one part until I’m happy with it before moving onto the next section.

I usually go (more or less) from left to right to avoid smudging paint with my hand. I hold my pencil and paintbrush much like a left-handed person, but with my right hand. The side of my hand usually rests on the paper or canvas.


Blending Colours...

When it comes to mixing colours, I pre-mix them on the pallet a little, but do most of the adjustments to the colour on the canvas. Blending in a little more red, green etc. until it looks “right”.

I’ve noticed myself spending a long time painting and repainting area around the mouth and the chin, sometimes to never be happy with the outcome. Subtle changes can make a huge difference!


Leaving the hair until last...