In this blog post I show how to paint a cat portrait using the classical approach to oil painting. I’ll go through each step of the classical style process, including the underpainting, the blocking in of color and final touches.
I applied a light cream-colored imprimatura consisting of chalk (calcium carbonate), lead white, dark ochre and red ochre to the canvas. The imprimatura was semitranslucent and applied thinly with a little turpentine. This light colored imprimatura was very popular throughout history, specially during the 17th century.
Once the imprimatura was completely dry, I sketched in the cat portrait using a brush with brown ochre and red ochre. I then created a sense of light and shadow with the same colors for the underpainting layer.
After the underpainting was dry, I blocked in the color. In this step I was looking for a sense of color harmony and unity. I always let some underpainting show through the colored layers and leave gaps between some colors so the warm underpainting shows through.
Once I felt the colors were harmonizing with each other, I started to work on my edges. Softening and blending wet-into-wet to create the illusion of form through more smoothly blended effects of modeling. I also deepened some shadows and brought in some highlights.
After this work dries, I will apply further glazes and scumbles to finish the cat’s fur and whiskers! I hope this quick tutorial was helpful. You can check out a timelapse video of this painting on my youtube channel Here!