Pet Portrait Process

I thought I’d post a bit of my process for painting a portrait in oils. Or, at least, a step-by-step guide to my basic stages.

Stage 1ish: The drawing and toning.

I usually draw my composition directly on the panel or canvas. I tone the board with a careful brushing of matte medium , then matte medium toned with burnt umber. This time, because of all the hair, I scratched and rubbed out areas that would be highlights or heightened.  I figured that would help me in the long run. I was sort of right…


Step 2ish: Block in render to umber/ultramarine shadows. 

There is a step missing before this. I blocked in the color using glazes so that the umber lent it’s warm tone to everything. Then-Using one of those handy hair/grass brushes you see in the art supply store, I went to town on the hair.


Step 3: Fluffing up the hair/ more rendering. 


Step 4: More shadows, more hair, and I’m seeing stars.

I went tighter on the face, deepened the shadows to obscure edges, and casually messed around.


Step 5: More shadows and more hair.

I wasn’t happy with the hair yet, so a combination of lights and darks as well as falling back into the original hair pattern helped get it back on track. No more messing about!


Face detail after loads or rendering.


Step 6: The final leg.

This is where I tool about; making sure my values are in balance. I found this board to be poorly prepared- the surface was too rough for finer details, but I did what I could.



I’ll keep it in the studio for another month, messing around with it as I see fit. More or less, I see it as finished. After all- My name is now on it! 😉

Stewie and Bunny218 4000810


Published by Lucas Nickerson

Lucas Nickerson is a world recognized Portland-based fine artist. He specializes in whimsical work featuring animals, puns, and portraiture.

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