The art of portrait

The art of portrait painting in oil colours

This informative book on portrait painting has been preserved for generations and fully deserves to to be available to all portrait artists online. While the art of portraiture has moved on, much of what was written is still valid and relevant to the modern day portrait painter.

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White Black

Venetian Red Indian Red Vermilion Naples Yellow

Burnt Sienna

Yellow Ochre Brown Ochre Prussian Blue Antwerp Blue Burnt Umber Raw Umber


It will be understood, from what we have already said on the subject of palettes, that it is not necessary to place all the colours on the palette at the same time, but such a selection should be made as will suit the proposed background.




PEARL.–White, Black, and Vermilion ;   or, if required stronger, substitute

Indian Red for Vermilion. GREY.-Black and White, employed to lighten parts that are too dark, or to

reduce those that are too warm. YELLOW.-Brown Ochre and White OLIVE.-Terre Verte, Umber, and Naples Yellow DARK.-Black and Burnt Sienna STONE.-Black, White, and Umber

Black, White, Umber, and Yellow Umber and Yellow


Numerous other tints, varying according to the proportions of the warm or cold colours, and which work admirably when broken by others, are composed of:

Black, White, and Burnt Sienna Antwerp Blue, Venetian Red, and White Terre Verte, Indian Red, and White




This background may be a landscape, a passage of garden scenery, or any composition, either entirely open or partially closed by foliage.

A few landscape tints, which may serve ordinary purposes we suggest to the student:



Yellow Ochre and White Vermilion, Yellow Ochre, and White Madder Lake, Yellow Ochre, and White French Blue, Raw Umber, and White French Blue, Vermilion, and White

Where it is intended that the sky shall be very dark, a little Black will reduce the cold tints to any degree.



Should it be desirable to express a remote distance in the picture, it may be done with the cloud tints broken with the following, with which we approach the foreground:

White, French Blue, and Light Red White, Terre Verte, and Light Red White, Terre Verte, and Prussian Blue


These tints may be met and broken by others, to which Madder Lake, Brown Ochre, Venetian Red, Raw Umber, and other strong foreground colours should contribute.

Any foliage constituting a part of an open background should not be painted with a Raw Green, but the hue must be mellowed with either Lake, Burnt Umber, or some warm colour.


About John Payne

Pet Portraits     Art for sale - oil paintings

I’ve been a professional portrait artist for the last 12 years but have been painting for a lot longer . I started out by painting nothing but seascapes and still do the odd one from time to time , I then moved onto landscapes and wildlife paintings before I finally decided to concentrate on portraits.

I get commissioned to paint a lot of pets , mainly dogs – but I also get to paint a fair amount of portraits of people.

more about John                                                                  John Payne       




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