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Step by step, mixed media portrait painting

Stephen Lursen portrait tutorial stephen lursen

I just finished a new project and I would love to walk you through my steps to the final painting.

I started off with a blank, new, primed, white, 8"x10" canvas.  I looked for a scrapbook paper that I really liked for an easy background.  Once I found the right scrapbook paper for me, I collaged it onto the canvas and cut away the excess paper.

Next step was to print off a predetermined photograph on standard printer paper.  I turned the color photo to black and white so that I could determine for myself what the colors would be.

Cut the background away from the figure.

Decide where on the canvas to collage the photo. - Composition

Before collaging the photo on, I painted the background with a thin layer of gold paint to increase contrast after the black and white photo is applied.

Using Mod Podge I collaged the photo onto the canvas. 
I left the face uncovered to experiment with the paint on paper instead of paint on acrylic surface.

I used Mod Podge, but Golden Brand's Matt medium would have been better.

 I like it already.

Now to start the painting process.

titanium white
carbon black
green gold
yellow ochre

I started with the eyes, then added layers of paint thinly to get multiple varieties of flesh tone.  

I surprised myself with how my green gold I would use.  I used a lot of green gold in the shadows.

painted the neck and down the chest. I painted the skin first and would later paint the necklace because you want to paint what ever in the back first.

I painted the necklace with black, white, and green gold. mixing these in various degrees creates a wide range of tints and shades.  These tints and shades create depth and highlights/shadows.

I decided to go crazy with teh hair. Maybe because we're getting close to Halloween, or maybe just because.  The hair colors include:

yellow ochre
green gold

Essentially all the colors were used in the hair to tie the piece together. Now all the colors in the face are also in the hair. This common color scheme unifies the piece while pushing the color contrast further than painting black or brown hair.

I painted the sides of the canvas black to finish the canvas.

The finished painting!

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  • Patricia Ragone on

    This piece has inspired me to move away from mixed media chickens and roosters to other subjects.
    Thank you, P

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