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Different from usual, I opted for a landscape portrait. The interesting thing is that it gave me the opportunity to do more with the background or in this case, the white space. I like serenity and tranquility in a portrait and was curious whether this choice would enhance the serenity.


Above you can see partly the first pencil sketch and over it the first layer of oil paint. Unfortunately I have no previous drawing recorded.

Actually I was a bit too fast, I would have liked to have developed the underlying drawing a little further. That would have saved me time at the end of the process where I had to make corrections to make the similarity even more striking. Although that wasn't what this sketch was about at all. But in the end I can't stand it if it doesn't quite match the person I had in front of me.


Another consciously chosen part of the design is the diagonal line of her shoulders, a counterpart to the diagonal line that runs across her face, the position of her head. Previously I examined the composition in a digital medium to get a feel for the effect I have in mind. The question was, how tilted can she be placed to enhance the dynamics of her posture?


This is a close up, so you can see what the brush strokes are like. I worked with a reasonably sized brush to avoid going into too much detail. At this stage it is mainly about setting up the overall gesture.


I like to keep sketchy or suggestive brushstrokes visible in a portrait. But then you have to know very well when a stroke is 'correct'. and should therefore stay away from it. There is often a tendency to continue working on likeliness, which causes you to get lost in details and lose sight of spontaneity. You think you are correcting mistakes that sometimes only require even more attention because of the corrections. Also in this work I think I went a bit too far when I look back at an earlier sketch phase.


In the image above, another part is clearly visible that I wanted to investigate. Without it actually being present in the setup, I introduced soft warm light from her left side. I wanted to investigate whether I could do that 'artificially' without making it look unnatural. And how bright should it be without it becoming too much of an 'attention grabber' and distracting from her face.

In retrospect, at the final stage of the sketch, this statement may have become a bit too austere. Something to keep a better grip on next time.


I regularly visit a museum and also listen a lot of podcasts, with interviews of fellow portrait painters.

Something that I have become aware of before and that many portrait painters talk about is the degree of contrast that can be played between cool ambient light and warm shadow areas (or vice versa). I consciously wanted to play with warm tones in her eye socket and under her nose. They are opposite to the cooler shades of light coming from the left in the scene.

It could be even more powerful, but I like it and I will consciously use it more often.

See if you can identify this phenomenon when you look at a person in the outside or inside the house. Is the ambient light cool or warm, and what is the temperature of the shadow areas...


Just zoom in on her left eye: Something that can fascinate me immensely is the omission of information. If you look at the part of her eye to the right of her iris... no details are visible there, such as eyelashes or the corner of her left eye. There is only a spot there that extends to her lower eyelid. Personally, I don't miss that information when I look at the portrait. By consciously playing with this, you can unconsciously put the viewer to work to flesh out details that you do not have to paint. The more you leave out, the more powerful, as far as I'm concerned, the general gesture or expression of a character.

Mastering this part takes practice, but it is a very nice skill to use consciously and it makes a portrait, in my eyes, magical. This not only works this way with portraits, but also when painting landscapes, architecture, etc.

Next time, look carefully when you are standing next to a portrait painting. You will be surprised how many details are not painted.


The intention was to make a sketch, but I went further in the elaboration than necessary. There are elements that I really like and others that bother me. For example, I would have liked to involve the hair more strongly in the design. But as with everything I make, I always learn and discover something I know little or nothing about yet...

I find the composition and white space a very interesting part of the process and makes the work different from a conventional portrait. I think that this also makes my view of the person I portray stronger.

The resemblance is ok for a sketch. But I have to make an effort not to touch up anatomical details. I better put that time into another new sketch!


Oh yes, the skin color... some parts of the skin have just a little more blood flow than other parts. Or catch more cool light, or warm light, or fall into the shadows. The nuances are excruciatingly subtle and I can't stop studying them. The bizarre thing is that at some point your eye really gives up.

When you look at a star, over time you no longer see it... this also applies to seeing colors and tonal values (how light or dark a hue is).

A trick is to look at the object through your eyelashes and concentrate as much as possible on the values (not on the colors). And thus be able to separate light and dark areas. That makes it easier. But it is important to 'reset' your eyes regularly. by looking at something else or having a black and white piece of paper nearby to stare at regularly... It has happened to me before that I have continued without a break and discovered that I had gone completely wrong...


Are you interested in a custom work of art or do you know someone who could be interested? Share my work or feel free to contact me directly by phone contact .


Read more about my working method and the quality I strive for by clicking on one of the other blogs below.

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