Paint a portrait
Annie Stegg shows how to create a fantasy portrait using traditional oil paints, working from background to foreground, and using other classical techniques
Be inspired by the classics.
The portrait artists from the Rococo period greatly inspire me. Indeed, these painters have always had a large influence on me, and their work has impacted my own methods.
The portraits of this period were both imaginative and fanciful. Works were created using beautiful vibrant palettes, serpentine lines, elaborate ornamentation and romantic atmospheres. Classical myths were often explored in these paintings, using a playfulness that was unique for the time.
I’ll be showing you the techniques I’ve learned from studying these classical paintings. I’m going to be depicting a portrait of Keto, one of the daughters of Oceanus from Greek mythology. She’s a naiad nymph whose name means sea monster in ancient Greek.
For this portrait I want to stay true to the classical portraits of the 18th century, while adding a fantastic element – the baby sea dragon – as a twist. You’ll learn how I create a fantasy portrait using these methods in one of my favourite mediums. While I’ll be working in traditional oils for this painting, keep in mind that many of the principles I’ll be showing here can also be applied to other mediums, too.
Once the idea for your image has been established, I find it helpful to create a value sketch on toned Canson paper. This will act as the base foundation for the rest of the piece. After sealing the drawing with a layer of acrylic matte medium, I’ll be toning the piece with a thin layer of oil to establish a warm ground for my painting. This initial toned layer will help establish an overall mood for the piece, as well as unify the colours. It also has the benefit of giving you a warm palette to start with.
Working from background to foreground, I’ll show you how you can continue to use glazes to enhance the colours of your image, tone back highlights and create overall atmosphere. Finally, I’ll demonstrate how to apply details that bring your characters and their world to life.