Category Archives: Andrew Loomis

Painting into a wet underpainting


In the book ‘Creative Illustration’ by Andrew Loomis there is an interesting  theory about color relations.

In short, he explains that by mixing a little of one color into all the other colors on the palette, the colors become related and a harmonious painting is automatically the result.

Instead of mixing on the palette you can also paint directly into a wet underpainting.  I tested out this technique and copied one of the four example portraits from the book.

I covered the whole canvas with a thin layer of blue, into which I painted all the other colors.


Portrait Sketch on Canson paper



Sketch after a Andrew Loomis drawing on Canson paper.

When I visited Holland, I bought a Canson drawing pad called “C a grain”. This is a grainy paper that I couldn’t find in stores in Norway.

I like to use the side of the pencil for shading and this paper is great for that. Because of the grain, you can get dark tones with just a HB or 2B pencil. Instead of switching pencils for darker tones I like to start and finish a drawing with the same pencil, and with this paper I can do that.



Painting an Andrew Loomis illustration

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Yesterday I tried to paint an Andrew Loomis illustration again, after an image I found on the internet.

I used my favourite limited palette (ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, cadmium red) plus burnt umber this time, so I could easily mix a black with ultramarine blue.

One tube at the time, I have now changed all my student grade oil paints to Winsor & Newton Artist colors and I’m happy with the results. It seems less of a struggle to paint, or could it be my slowly increasing painting skills, maybe, I don’t know…

All I know is that I really enjoyed painting this.

Portrait Painting in black&white oil – PART II

This is part II of my attempt to paint a black&white portrait as shown in the book “Creative Illustration” by Andrew Loomis.

In part I I finished the charcoal underdrawing.  In this post I’ll show some photo’s of the beginning of the painting stage.

The black paint I used is a mixture of Ivory black (a blue and cool black) and Burnt Umber. I pre-mixed four values: An almost white gray, a light grey, a dark gray, and an almost black gray.

1. I started blocking in the darkest parts and the background.

2. Adding the whites and a light gray for the skin.

3. Adding more details on the hair and face.

I felt this was a critical moment in the painting, how to continue?
You can see how the painting turned out in the upcoming part III.

Portrait painting in black&white oil – PART I

I’m a big fan of the art books by Andrew Loomis. Every time I read “Creative Illustration” I find something new and I often think: “Why didn’t anyone show me this before?”

On page 116 he writes about a painting technique he calls the soft approach. Large tones are painted in directly and edges are softened immediately. After that details are added while the paint is wet.

I have drawn quite a few portraits in pencil and charcoal that turned out well, but I find portraits in color still difficult to do. Taking one step back to black and white paint is a good exercise.

This is the first of three blog posts of the painting in progress.

I started with copying the charcoal underdrawing on Canson Figueras oil paper. This paper has a linen-like surface and can be painted on with oil or acrylic without further preparation.

I made the drawing fairly quick. Looking back I found that it is essential to take the time to make an accurate drawing first. My aim was not to get a perfect likeness, but next time I will be more careful to get the proportions right. I always seem to have problems with the jaw line and had to correct this later on while painting. Checking the drawing in a mirror is something I should do more often.

Another problem came up while fixing the drawing. The paper doesn’t absorb the fixative very well and  the charcoal started running. I quickly laid the drawing on the floor to let it dry. Lesson learned: It’s better to spray on three or more very light coatings than one.

Ready to start painting in the next part!