Starting A Portrait by Reynaldo

2012 charcoal, acrylic wash on canvas 48×36″

Young artists and beginners always ask me, how do you start a painting… how do you start a portrait, an abstract???? I always answer… just do it…
go for it… right, wrong thats how you learn… but here is a quick lesson,… on starting portrait work… work large if you (as large) as you can for if you can master large….then small 24×18″ or smaller are a piece of cake… I once did some freelance art work for a billboard company….designed the layouts and then do the painting on…. 10 ft x 40 ft works…doing portraits and layouts was a real eye opener… that large…so my favorite size is usally 48×36″ or large problem is most clients can’t afford large… anyway start with your drawing… get good at it… that is the key… when you can draw in your portrait with an acrylic wash… directly on to the canvas you are on your way…
I always like to make the painting look like a painting and not like a photograph… “Picasso once said if you make it look like a photograph…. don’t brother doing a painting… just take a photograph”…

Most journeyman artists can make a portrait look like a photograph…. I prefer it to look like a painting… and charge double if the client wants it to look like a photograph… Thats just me…and I’m not cheap!… lol

This layout I drew directly on canvas where I will paint portrait on… (loosely) rough in with a charcoal stick somtimes I use combination of conte and charcoal, and graphite… but only to key in colors I plan to use…
Then went over with light acrylic wash of burnt umber, I use a dark green sometimes as well… sometimes I just draw in with light wash and skip drawing in with charcoal… don’t worry about the drips as they add charm… and you can alway paint them out…and always focus on the finish work… by that I mean… look ahead as you work… kind of like playing chess… the more you can look ahead before you paint the richer and better the final results…
I also used a little yellow directly with same brush only light rinse of brush in water…as you want some of the burnt umber or other color to carry into the yellow… more on that next lesson….


As a self-taught working artist, I have always believed that we are all blessed with gifts. It’s up to us to recognize and develop them; to what extent we will use those gifts to benefit others that cross our path.

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  • Renate  Dartois
    Renate Dartoisabout 3 years ago

    Oh this is wonderful Reynaldo I am going to Fav. this and print it out you said there will be more awesome.

  • yes more lessons to come as I get emails and people are always asking me how do I do this… how do I do that …. always happy to help as I am Blessed…thank you dear

    – Reynaldo

  • madvlad
    madvladabout 3 years ago

    looks reyish already which means?gooood rey,,when i painted in oil, i started with blue,yellow ochra and white mix for my drawings and a rag in my hand to wipe away my screw ups on my start this is done already haha , the check is in the mail

  • thank you my friend…yes rags are great, especially in working with oils…pastels and charcoal… I use them different sizes textures for blending in (especially oils)… just like rubbing in pastels…works great…I use old t-shirts cut them up into small pieces to use also for cleaning brushes much gracias amigo

    – Reynaldo

  • eoconnor
    eoconnorabout 3 years ago

    This is a great drawing and lesson thanks so much for your great sharing of your methods and abilities. Liz

  • thank you so much my dear for your support

    – Reynaldo

  • Reynaldo
    Reynaldoabout 3 years ago

    thank you mhkantore for fav

  • Reynaldo
    Reynaldoabout 3 years ago

    loui jover thank you sir

  • TrixiJahn
    TrixiJahnabout 3 years ago

    Oh yes!!! This is great, Reynaldo!!!

  • JolanteHesse
    JolanteHessealmost 3 years ago

    Brilliantly expressive work!

  • Matty B. Duran
    Matty B. Duranalmost 3 years ago

    A beautiful portrait! I always like charcoal drawings,, there is something so rustic about charcoals. I really enjoyed this drawing! May God bless you!

  • Anthea  Slade
    Anthea Sladealmost 3 years ago

    A stunning expressive portrait Rey and an articulate, informative very generous sketching lesson. An absolute pleasure to read and to view. I look forward to seeing this one unfold dear Rey :) His face and pose is powerful and commanding and full of presence and character. Very beautiful lines too. xxx

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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