Tutorial – A Painting Demonstration

by Eric Wallis



Many Artists do not have the opportunity to study at an Art School or University, however, there is absolutely no reason why an Artist cannot learn to paint or draw in today’s age, with the Internet at our fingertips. There is a vast amount of instruction and education material where an Artist can learn from. It is fantastic if you can join an Art Group or class as this always helps being around other artists and getting hands on advice

Practical learning is obviously imperative, so hours of regular practice are essential if you want to achieve a level of Artistry that will allow you to create Artwork that is remotely equivalent to learned Artists.

In my Art classes, I like to offer practical demonstrations when required which is extremely useful for students to visually perceive how a specific method is achieved.

On the internet, many well trained Artists offer an online demonstration. There are tons on YouTube too.

With kind permission from one of my favorite Artist’s of all time, Eric Wallis who lives and works in Logan, Utah, I have posted photographs of a painting demonstration from start to finish.

Although Eric has used Oil paint, this method can be used working in Acrylic paint too. The comments under the photo’s are Eric’s. I have added my comments in brackets.



“I decided on a warm background wash using black and red oxide thinned with mineral spirits. Then I let it flash, which means that the mineral spirits evaporate leaving the paint film slightly dryer than it was when I put it on. This makes the paint receptive to the next layers.

I want to make sure that I get the width and height of the model correct and completely on the canvas so I drew a triangle that corresponds to the model. The straight vertical side runs through the center-line of her torso. The top point corresponds to the top of her head. The 2 bottom points are each of her toenails. Fitting the model to that triangle will make sure she fits on the canvas. The width between the toenails is double the length of the longest side of the triangle which I found by measuring the model. Its a lucky coincidence which I’ll use to my advantage.”

“This step is a rough line drawing of the figure using cobalt blue light. I drew it heavier than usual so it would show in the photo. I don’t always work with a line drawing but chose to on this painting.”

(The method that Eric uses, drawing a triangle is taught in the drawing class offered at The Painting Cave and when sketching from live models and still life – Jax)

“I scrubbed in the background using white + cobalt blue lt. + cobalt turquoise + black in various quantities. As it moves to the corner of the room I added transparent brown oxide to warm the mixture and more black to darken the value.”

(The colours that Eric uses are Oil paint colours. The names of these colours can vary in different brands of paint.- Jax)

“I established the darkest shapes in the painting which are in the hair using black + transparent red oxide + alizarin crimson. The lightest shapes in the painting are on the seat where I used white with a touch of magenta. All the other values will be between these two. Now I have something to compare with. Note, I smoothed the brush strokes in the darks with my pallet knife so the light wouldn’t reflect on them and visually lighten the value.”

“I have painted most of the shadow values. I used cobalt turquois + cad. green pale + english red light + white to get the values and tones. The values were easy to judge since the darker darks were correct. I used my pallet knife to blend the edges of each value shape into the one next to it. I started the light values with the fabric on the seat coming down one value step from the lightest. “

“Now I move to the light values in the figure. I used cad. orange + white + yellow ochre in the mid-light value. I added a touch of alizarin and more white to get the highlights. I’ve left the edges of the shapes unblended here so you can see them better. I’ll blend them and make them flow better in the final stages. I noticed drawing flaws in the lower legs. The right leg (model’s right, viewer’s left) was corrected and now I’ll move to the left leg.”

I worked the shapes to blend them into each other. I put more paint on where it was needed, always careful to maintain my value relationships. I’ll come back and look at it tomorrow with a fresh eye to see what else I need to do.

“Now I’ll go home and sleep on it.”

(This step in creating a painting is so important. When you have worked for hours on a painting, you tend to overlook the obvious. Looking at it again with “fresh eyes” always helps you to see where you need to adjust it. I sometimes turn my painting to the wall for a time or I go for a walk and come back to see what needs to be done. – Jax)

“I’m back the next day and I immediately see that I need to work on the feet, face and the hand. Just a bit more detail in each. And I need to measure the face and get her proportions correct. Starting with the face, this photo is before the work begins.”

“The face after the face lift.”

“Hands and feet before.”

“Hands and feet after. I actually did a little more than just the hands and feet. I worked on the arm, legs and stomach also.”

“I dry-brushed black + cobalt turquois + trans. oxide brown to blend edges and darken the back wall and curtain. I darkened the foilage a bit to push it all back in space bringing the model forward. I cleaned up a few edges in the stomach and knees.”

(Isn’t this just beautiful! What a magnificent piece of Art! – Jax)

Eric has taught me so much without even realizing it. He sometimes paints live online too so if you are keen to watch a live painting session, be sure to login to http://www.wallisart.com/ and see when he is on line. There is a link on his website that you can click on to watch. I hope that this demonstration will help you. Thanks again to Eric Wallis for allowing me to share his superb skill and technique.

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