Portraits of Friends – Charl

I thought for this painting I would give people an idea of what happens before I start painting.


I wanted to paint a portrait for my friend as a housewarming gift. I decided to use this portrait as a training opportunity so instead of relying too much on a photograph I decided to make a fictional scene. She studied history with me at university so I went for something medieval-esque.

Now that I had a theme I decided to look for inspiration. John William Waterhouse is one of my favourite painters of medieval scenes and many of his paintings feature arches so I decided to paint my subject in front of an arch.

I still was not entirely sure how the painting would look so I made some sketches in pencil. When I felt like I had a decent idea to go with I sketched it out in burnt sienna on a 10×8 canvas panel. Whilst doing this I made many changes.


I finally had a pretty solid idea in terms of the lines and values I would be using but I was unsure about the colours. I first decided that I would try and create colour harmony by making warm reds and yellows the main theme with the dress standing out in blue. To make sure I was on the right track I made a colour study. This is a small very rough painting to get an idea of how blocks of colour will look. Having made the study it looked so harmonious that it was boring.

I made another study, this time replacing the vast expanse of orange sunset with blue daylight. This was a lot more interesting and with the two studies side by side it’s difficult for my eyes not to get drawn to the one with a blue sky.




1st Layer (Sketch in Burnt Sienna)

2nd Layer (Grisaille)

3rd Layer (Colour)

4th Layer (More Colour and Glazing)



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