Step by Step: Making a Painting 1 Oct 06, paul.hilario

How do I paint? In this two part article I will share to you how I develop a painting.

How do I paint? In this two part article I will share to you how I develop a painting.
The piece I will be using as an example is part of my exhibit in November at SM Calamba. I won’t divulge the title but it is a rice painting even if it doesn’t look like one. Hope you can guess the title once the painting is finished.
After deciding what to paint, I do my concept on a sketch pad. Normally, I use the Rule of Thirds as my guiding principle in figuring out where images will be placed. I redraw the image directly on canvas using a 2H graphite pencil. The hardness of the pencil doesn’t create a dark black line on the canvas and it can be easily covered by paint. I am using acrylic in this painting. Painting size is 24 inches by 30 inches.

Sketch and underpaint. At this point no brushes were used. I used an ordinary sponge to make the underpainting. There is no fear in overshooting an outline or messing it up since most will be covered anyway.

In the image above you can still see my pencil lines and I’ve also used Burnt Sienna to create my underpainting. You can use other colors to underpaint depending on the mood you want to set in a painting. Now why do I under paint? Some artists prefer to paint directly with no underpainting but I prefer this method for the following reasons:
1. It gives you an idea where you will put the dark and light tones.
2. It removes the stark white canvas that can show through if you missed some difficult areas.
3. Some of the Burnt Sienna will peek through the overpaint and this creates a nice contrast or complementary effect to your painting. 
4. It provides for an immediate change in color hues and tones when you apply a wash, thin or a not overly opaque paint over it.
5. It sets an additional mood to your painting. What do I mean? Well, you can decide between a warm or cool mood in a painting. Warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) will give warm paintings and cool colors (blues, greens, pinks) will give you obviously a cool mood. But you can of course use a warm underpaint in a cool painting and vice versa. Art is flexible.
Painting in the background first.

Filling in the colors and details. I usually paint midtones first. The midtone is the color between your shadow and highlight. I used dry brush technique exclusively so far. I do not add any paint medium to my acrylic paint. Marcel Antonio, a popular Filipino artist, takes dry brushing to a whole new level. I consider him as one of the best.


In this next image, after 6 hours I think, I’ve painted in the dirt street, painstakingly painted the rice and maybe ¾ of the blue denim jacket. Remember I am not a realism painter hence I try not to be so detailed in all the things in the painting. I like to cross pop art and impressionism although I know I can paint realistically if I wanted to.
For the dirt street notice that I painted it dark colors on the bottom then light colors on top – this creates an effect of distance and light source.

The figure I’m painting is the quintessential Filipino action hero. Here you see a square-jawed man with sideburns wearing a jacket. He has a thick neck, broad shoulders and is a mestizo. Sounds familiar? Could be him or also not. Depends on how you see it.

More details filled in. I will rework the lips since I find it too small.


In this picture, after another 2 hours, I’ve finished the jacket except for the brass buttons. I’ve also worked on his face. I’ve decided to change his right hand position and keep it on his side rather than grasping the plastic bag with rice. I decided that I wanted him to have some separation from the rice on sale. This I think provided an additional clue to the title of the painting.
The colors I used so far are the following:
1. Vandyke Brown
2. Burnt Umber
3. Burnt Sienna
4. Raw Sienna
5. Yellow Ochre
6. Titanium White
7. Paynes Grey
8. Flesh Tone
9. Lemon Yellow (Where?!) Yellow plus grey/black creates a greenish/grey color. I used that on the stalls in the background.
10. Crimson Red
11. Purple Red (Where?!) All my figures have this hair color (including eyebrows, eyelashes etc) instead of black.
12. Violet (Where?) I never use black and instead I use violet.
13. Rose (where?!) Mixed with Burnt Sienna and Flesh Tone for the skin.
14. Pthalocyanine Blue (my fave)
Notice that the effect of the colors at this stage is quite somber. That is on purpose. This obviously is not a bright and sunny painting. I usually do paint bright pieces. In this one I wanted to create a cool mood. Burnt Sienna is quite neutral and could work both for warm or cool pieces.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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