Techniques and Tips

Painting Demo by Casey Baugh: Fine-Tuning a Portrait in Oil

Painting Demo by Casey Baugh: Fine-Tuning a Portrait in Oil

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Portrait artist Casey Baugh (featured in Magazine, October 2010) develops his composition, light and color harmonies for a modern oil painting.

Allure (oil, 40×50) by Casey Baugh, was selected as one of the 15 finalist paintings that were juried for the top 5 awards in the Portrait Society of America’s 2009 International Portrait Competition.

Scroll Down for a 12-Step Demonstration
My painting Allure (above) was born out of the desire to paint in a modern-day attitude. I wanted to paint something that would fit into today’s culture but still remain timeless in its arrangement and presentation. The model was my cornerstone for everything else to come. Her attitude portrayed, to me, an aspect of modern society that I wanted to capture and share.

I selected a wardrobe that would echo the same personality as well as the surrounding color harmony and lighting. I’d decided to use a red Victorian style chair as my prop to depict the beauty of vintage paraphernalia scattered throughout modern decor. I also decided on a single light source, which I focused very strongly downward upon my scene to mimic the mood of track or spot lighting within a room.

All in all the painting took about two weeks to complete, from the early conceptual sketches to the small oil studies and then the final piece.

1 Apply the Underpainting
I brushed on a thin, neutral wash to the canvas to serve as my base, using ultramarine blue deep and cadmium orange.

2 Block In the Piece
Using medium and a small amount of paint, I carefully worked out the drawing of the figure with a series of lines. My aim was to be as accurate as possible as this stage is the foundation for strokes to come. Although I covered these lines in the final stages, at this juncture the lines allowed me to better visualize the finished piece and gave me confidence to be bold with the upcoming strokes.

3 Determine the Value Scale
Using the lines as my guide, I began to lay in the values. I determined one of the darkest and the lightest areas to set the value boundaries. All other values would be later judged against these.

4 Finish Laying In the Values
Working my way around the canvas, I continued to lay in value. It was important for me to keep the paint thin at this point for ease of manipulation.

5 Break Down Larger Shapes
Going back into the face, I began to break down the larger shapes and go for a bit more detail. I was careful, however, not to get too tight at this stage. I like to keep my edges as soft as possible throughout my paintings until the very end.

6 Move Down With More Detail
The shapes in the face almost complete, I then moved down to the hands. I also placed a dark at the bottom right corner to help see my value range.

7 Continue Downward
I continue to work my way down the painting, finding value and edge. Color at this point is not top priority and will be held until a later stage.

8 Introduce Second-Range Color
I’ve worked out most of the values in the figure. At this point I began to introduce a second range of color in the chair.

9 Work Detail into Figure and Clothing
Next I worked more detail into the figure and clothing. At this stage I’m able to catch a glimpse of what the finished piece will look like. It’s a good stage to reach as this is a real boost to my morale and gives me the energy to finish the piece with strength.

10 Question Attitude of Piece
I continued to work out more detail in the figure. It was at this stage that I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the attitude of the piece. I found that the position of the head was disrupting the mood and needed to be changed. Although I’d done several small studies in preparation for this painting, it’s often difficult to see such problems in small studies and therefore I must work them out in the larger piece.

11 Repaint Head at a Tilt
At this point most of the painting in the face had dried so I was able to paint over the previous head and lay in the new tilted one. A change like this doesn’t affect the composition as much as the content or mood of the piece. The new change was a great help to the piece in my opinion, and I was excited to lay in the finishing strokes.

12 Give the Finishing Touches
As sort of a last minute decision, I changed the color of the background to green and suggested a framed painting in the upper left as well as a dark vertical to the far right. The addition of the green was a great help to the overall color harmony of the piece, and the dark frame was a positive step for the composition. After the new additions and finishing strokes, I stepped away from the painting and viewed it again several days later with fresh eyes. Still pleased with the results, I signed Allure (oil, 40×50).

Meet Casey Baugh
Baugh won his first regional competition at the age of 14 and his first national one by age 17. Today at 25 the artist has received international acclaim for his figurative paintings, including the People’s Choice Award and First Honor at the 2009 International Portrait Competition hosted by the Portrait Society of America. His work has graced the covers of fine art publications like Magazine (our December 2008 and April 2010 issues), and he’s produced instructional videos and conducted workshops for aspiring artists. Wendt Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, represents his work. Look for Baugh’s solo show in late 2010 at Wendt Gallery’s new secondary space in downtown New York.” Visit his website at

To read the full article about Casey Baugh and his oil portrait painting techniques published in the April 2010 issue of Magazine, click here.

Baugh shares his portrait painting techniques in another demonstration.

Free preview

Click here to watch a preview of the video “The Complete Drawing Course for Beginners with Ronald Swanwick, Part 2.”

Watch the video: Casey Baugh (June 2022).


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