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My odd steps in doing a figure painting

Updated on July 3, 2013

Beginning the Painting --stage one


Starting with the under painting

I do many portraits and scenes with figures in them, but don't really follow the rules. I think that you are supposed to start with the background and work forward. Except with under painting my canvas first, I usually start with the foreground first and work backwards. I do like to start with a good under painting, however. I have found that it adds depth to the painting. I like to use a rustic brown with some orange in it, which seems to work well with the skin tones when you have figures in the painting. I always use acrylic as the paint medium now, as it dries more quickly and seals the canvas. After my background is thoroughly dry, then I use a darker brown oil paint to draw in the figures or you can use a dark brown, soft art pencil and later paint over it. I always use oil paint as my final medium, as it always seems to have more life and feeling than acrylic paint--( if paint has feeling that is).

stage 2

The most difficult figure first

I usually start with the most difficult area in the foreground first and work backwards. This time, the most difficult figure first, and then the other figures in the painting. I work on the faces first to make sure that I have captured a good likeness of them. When I have captured the most difficult face first, I work on the whole figure, then on to the next face and so on. With this painting, the Savior was the most difficult figure, and therefore the first one I needed to finish, next the children's faces--so they looked like my models, which in this case were my own grandchildren.

Stage 3

Adding more meaning to the painting

Later I decided to add one more child to the painting so that all the children that use sign language would be represented. Children that were deaf are represented by the child in the foreground that was born deaf, the child behind her has a deaf parent, the child in the background is learning sign language for greater communication, and the child on the savior's lap represents all deaf and hearing children that sign. The temple was also added to the background, (drawn in )to represent the temple that the savior will one day return to. And finally, the little flowers by the seat Jesus is sitting on--- are forget-me-nots.

The Signing Jesus

The final piece

The background was painted next, and the temple building was then faded out by over painting (glazing) in white to represent the light from the heavens, and to not over power the figures in the foreground. The final detail was painted in the brick pedestal that Jesus was sitting on and the grass and flowers were painted----- It's nice to see that Jesus knows all languages.


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    • signgirl profile image

      Carol Hill 4 years ago from Palmetto, Florida

      Dear Dbro, thanks for your kind comment.

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Fabulous hub, signgirl! It's always a pleasure to read about a talented artist's technique. Thank you for sharing this special painting.