May 15


How to Paint a Portrait – The Starting point

By Patrick Turner-lee

May 15, 2019



The first step is deciding who you want to paint. In the example Katharine Hepburn is my subject. You will see if you follow the series how I develop a relationship with her.

Used for portrait 

So the process involves working from the centre of the canvas and can apply to any portrait. So you need some materials. Primary colour acrylics and plenty of white too.

Find the middle of the canvas and middle of image


Second step is making your first marks. Having decided the picture that you want to work from find the centre of that image and the centre of your canvas. Then start to make some marks. This is about freeing your mind and getting used to the materials. Engage with the feel of the substrate or canvas and the brush in your hand.

Glance at the image spot the dark areas and respond with a mark on the canvas where you think it might be. It is like a dance with the subject. You are beginning to get to know someone in a way that you have never thought of before.

Making the first marks is exciting and scary


Third Step is to check the whole image and reflect on what is useful in the overall finished product. You will see from the image I use that the background is clear of objects and the subject has clearly defined features.

This is a good way to start. It is really useful to learn through doing. How do you see these features eyes ear and nose for example. You will be surprised, I know I am every time.

Free your mind and make marks


So we can see where we are now. The first three videos and blogs are about experimenting and beginning to find your own process. I am sharing my way of doing this not because it is the right way but because it works for me. Please stick to it and you will find that some of the things I do are because of my personality.

Painting is as much about finding yourself as it is creating a new set of images.

Composition in place. A firm base to build on

Part Two on the way


Patrick Turner-lee

About the author

Reveal the Artist within Inspire yourself and then others Sustain a consistent creative life Connect with those around you

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