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Rick Piloco 2 Hour Portrait Painting Demonstration – December 22, 2016


Surface: Rick uses oil pre-primed canvases (not acrylic) on stretcher or mounted on board.  [Rick re-stretched the canvas and used the canvas keys to make the canvas more taught as it was loose.]

Oils: Rick mixes his paint brands and feels that there are some colors that you can not get in particular brands.

Palette: Rick uses two whites: flake white and a lead white; one white is more yellow and the other more blue.

Brushes: Rick prefers to use the largest possible brushes for as long as possible, especially when painting alla prima.  He generally tries to use only two brushes, one for lights and one for dark colors.  Rick uses square, flat, bright or filbert shapes but will use them all depending on what is available.

Medium: Chelsea Classical Studio School of Fine Arts (CCS) lean medium [this version was custom blended for Rick as a test using 50% Spike Oil & 50% home made sun thickened linseed oil).  The regular CCS Lean Medium is 50% linseed oil & 50% Spike Oil.

Rick set up the model [behind left] under a store light [above] and painted her at an angle while she looked in another direction.  The model was angled to have a good balance of light and dark moments.  The canvas is white initially (not pre-tinted) and sits on a tripod travel easel.  Rick prefers to set up his palette on another stand in front of him so that he can easily mix colors and aids while he is teaching/talking.

Rick points out his palette layout and colors.  He arranges the colors darkest on the left to lightest on the right.  He places one warm and one cool version of each basic color next to each other.  He also includes his two whites (see above for description of exact colors).  Rick was using a rectangular palette that was on hand and uses various shapes and sizes with no real preference.  The base color of the palette should be similar to the base color of the canvas you plan to use.  Rick covers the canvas in a neutral warm brown which roughly matches his palette color to make mixing colors easier.  His two mediums are in small cups, his custom CCS medium (see above) and CCS brush cleaner.

Rick shows off the two basic larger brushes that he uses for almost the entire demo (see above for description).

Rick first plans the composition by laying out the basic figure shape, reviewing the angles and proximity to the canvas edges.  He paints in a warm neutral mixture brown.  He draws the basic rough contour.

Rick next establishes the basic NO TAN which is the simple black or white shapes.  Lighter shapes are group with the LIGHTS and darker shapes are grouped and simplified with the DARKS.  The DARKS are painted with the warm neutral brown mix of paint and lights are left the color of the white canvas initially.  Rick draws and fills in the basic simplified dark shapes.

Rick quickly creates the NO TAN, usually within the first 10-15 minutes model sitting.  The painting should have some character and feel of the model because the NO TAN.

In the next 10-15 minute sitting, Rick makes sure that the entire canvas is covered.  He uses a dark or light warm brown.  The light warm brown is used for the “white” of the NO TAN.  Edges and shapes are adjusted.

When covering the lights, Rick will try to match the TONE and HUE (in brown) as best as possible to match the scene.  Rick chose intentionally NOT to match the background TONE to better allow the model to stand out in the final painting.

By the end of the 2nd 10-15 minute sitting, Rick re-inforces the darks and adjusts and refines the shapes and contours.

Over the next few 10-15 minute model sittings, Rick refines the shapes and works progressively smaller but tries to keep all his moves as large as possible, still using the largest brush possible.  Tones and Hues begin to be matched.

In the last 2-3 sittings, Rick introduces white and lights and holds off as long as possible to do this.  He tries to keep his colors as clean as possible, not wanting to mix white or black into his paints.  Here he has started to build up the whites.  But the entire painting has been kept fairly thin and becomes progressively heavier and thicker with paint when he moves to adding the lights.

Rick cools/greys down the background to better match the HUE but still chooses to adjust the TONE to help the figure stand out.

Rick continues to refine the shapes not allowing himself to get to fixed on capturing one aspect.  He moves constantly around on the painting keeping all his gestures and refinements as big as possible, unwilling to “fix” anything before its time.

The painting was completed within 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It was worked up fast and given more time and multiple sittings would be progressively more finished.  Rick believes that you never know when painting from life, how much time you may get; you need to be able to capture the character and feel of the model within a short period of time and his method of creating a NO TAN allows for that.

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