Video transcript
Art Bites - Portrait painting with Neil Tomkins and Digby Webster - 02. Making the painting

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NEIL TOMKINS: Hey, I'm Neil Tomkins. I'm a visual artist and painter. And I mostly focus on landscape, but I do like, you know portraits and still life and things like this. I've been painting for many years.

And today we're going to be going through some approaches to portrait painting, so yeah hope you enjoy. And I'm working here with my friend Digby, and Digby's also an artist. Say, hey. Tell them a little bit about what you're doing there.

DIGBY WEBSTER: Hi. My name is Digby Ernest Webster, and I got Down syndrome. And I'm an artist, and I'm based in the West. And I just actually, I get to do my own artwork at home at my own studio.

NEIL TOMKINS: OK, so now that we've gone through a couple of different approaches to mark making, we've done here our pastel drawing in black and white and then colour. Here, working from pencil and then translating into pastel. And here, from black pastel to coloured pastel, from pencil and then working directly over the top. And then here, just straight charcoal.

So now we're going to move on to painting. So to begin with, we're just going to sketch up a basic idea, a basic shape, similar to what we've done before, and then we're going to work over the top with paint.

[music playing]

So here we are. what we've done so far, and these are the, basically, the sketch for the development of painting. So we've more or less done what you've seen before on the wall behind. But now, instead of leaving it there, we're going to take it a bit further and start playing around with some paint and mixing some colours.

OK, so we've got our palettes here. Here's this palette here, yep. And we're both going to be working slightly differently. As all of you should be working slightly differently too, that's fine. Everyone has their own different way of painting, and there's no right and wrong way to do it.

So to start off, me, I like to work with the primary colours yellow, blue, and red. And then I have white and black here to either lighten or darken whatever colour I'm working with. So let's say I want to start off and keeping in mind that working from the sketch here, we've got, see, these shadowy parts here and there. So there's a dark side and a light side, like I mentioned before.

So we look at the idea of light and dark colours. So let's say I want to make a green. I get some yellow and just a tiny bit of blue because blue is a lot stronger than yellow. Yep, so that's, that'll do.

And then applying it pretty freely to, I'll put a little bit of water on it because I'm working on paper. I'm not going to put too much water because it will come out quite thick. And then basically just freely pop a bit of colour on. And generally, when you're working with colour, what I like to do is work in patterns of three. So you can see here, I've put green in two spots, so now I want to put it in a third spot.

Now, you don't have to mix all your own colours. I just like to. I enjoy doing it. So, of course, you can see here some of the colours here. You've got lots of nice greens that you can work with already, so you don't have to be doing this. But for those that are interested, I'm going to mix some colours.

So now we go a little bit cooler, and I'm going to take a little bit of white. And then we get this kind of nice, bluey, aquary sort of colour. You want to water it out and start working in the next section. Here we go. So at the moment, it's kind of looking quite messy and wild, but that's all right. It's going to come together. OK.

DIGBY WEBSTER: I'm just working over the lines, my lines, the colourful lines over on top of the black paint at the moment. So after all that's done, I would use from these gorgeous colours here and just go filling all these empty spaces.

NEIL TOMKINS: Cool. So now that I've started to play around with a few of the colours, you can see that I've mixed each one of the primaries into a slightly lighter tone of each and played around with that. Now I'm mixing the red over here with the yellow and starting to play with some secondary colours. So I'm making sort of like a sunburnt orange here.

And I've done the cool side, the shadowed side, and now I want to get some of these lighter tones and start filling in over the other side for where the light hits. So this is where we use quite a bit of white.

[music playing]

So now we've gotten a bunch of colours over the whole of the image, and we've started to play around with a few different shapes and a few different mixes of the primary colours. Now, the next stage will be popping in the rest of, see, with there's the charcoal. I generally paint the eyes last. You can paint them first if you want, though. It doesn't really matter, but that's just how I'm doing it at the moment.

We're going to work the rest of this charcoal here, and then we're going to focus on the background, which is still all white. You can leave it white if you want, or you can do a colour. I'm going to do a colour and maybe some shapes. So that'll be the next stage for me.

And what about you Digby? How's yours going?

DIGBY WEBSTER: I'm just going over the black lines over that paint.

NEIL TOMKINS: Over this way.

DIGBY WEBSTER: And now I went back on the top of the hair in brown, dark brown. So now I've just done the eyes in turquoise colour, but now I'm doing this colour inside the face at the moment.

NEIL TOMKINS: So now I'm going to start putting in some of the details here and sort of bringing out some of the shapes like down here and here sort of. So far, I've just been using the same brush, but now is when it might be good to get a smaller brush, and we can play around with some of those details with a smaller brush.

So I'm going to mix like a kind of a, I guess it's like a muddy, purply sort of colour and get some of the shapes in here. And this is more of a drawing style with paint rather than like, you know, just straight-up painting. It's kind of like drawing with a brush.

And I'm thinking, I don't know what colour the eyes should be. Maybe a brown. Pinch a little bit of brown here and mix [laughs] a pinch of a little bit of your brown, Digby.

DIGBY WEBSTER: I know you did

NEIL TOMKINS: I'm making a, you don't mind though, do you?

DIGBY WEBSTER: No, I don't mind.

NEIL TOMKINS: Thanks, man. And now I'm kinda making this funny sort of, well, see, because the blue is still on the brush, and so it kind of makes like a grey colour, but that's OK. We're going to pop that in the eyes, like that, and then although here, I'll show you.

So although all in here is already white, I'm still going to get some white paint and put it in there so it really pops out. So we'll see how that looks, and I'll show you in a sec. So, you looking good, Digby?


NEIL TOMKINS: Yeah? It's coming together?


NEIL TOMKINS: Oh, I like how you're playing with shadow there, mucking around with the green and the, what's that? Like a magenta kind of colour. It's nice.

DIGBY WEBSTER: Yeah. I like yours.

NEIL TOMKINS: Thank you. Yeah, it's coming together. I'm just playing around with some of the colours, really. Just seeing how they kind of sit together and having a bit of fun with it.

DIGBY WEBSTER: That's cool.

NEIL TOMKINS: Yeah. You've got a good, your brush strokes, like it's nice to kinda let the brush strokes come through, you know, and not be too worried about trying to flatten everything out, you know. It's nice to have a bit of texture. That's good. How do you find this board to work on? Is it all right?


NEIL TOMKINS: The paper?

DIGBY WEBSTER: Oh yeah. The paper is great.

NEIL TOMKINS: It's all right?


[music playing]

NEIL TOMKINS: Now, what I've done is I've worked over the charcoal in the hair. And you can see that there's some sort of darker elements in there, and that's from the charcoal coming through on the brush. And because it's hair, it kinda works ok with that. So I leave that.

And now the only thing in the whole drawing that remains the charcoal is these little bit of eyes. And I don't mind that either, so I'm going to leave that. And let's see what Digby's doing. And this has come together quite a lot aye, Digby?

DIGBY WEBSTER: Yeah. Well, I just done

NEIL TOMKINS: Digby, bring it over this way then. Yeah, yeah. Nice.

DIGBY WEBSTER: I just added another eye over here, with that green up here. And I'm just putting more over here, the nose in the middle, maybe ears in there. I think that'd be almost about it.

NEIL TOMKINS: Awesome. Almost done. Just this section up here and down here, no?

[interposing voices]

DIGBY WEBSTER: Yeah, here, here, here and those ears, and here. I need to do the outline on the eyelid.

NEIL TOMKINS: Oh, yeah. I see.

DIGBY WEBSTER: I thought an eyelid would be nice.

NEIL TOMKINS: Nice. So we're getting pretty close now.


NEIL TOMKINS: We're getting pretty close now to finishing the process, so we're sort of working on the background elements. Me, I'm thinking, for this particular painting, I'm doing the background last. Sometimes you do the background first. Some people would like to paint the whole thing in colour and then work over the top. I'm working the opposite.

So I'm going to cut into some of these shapes, and I'm going to work with black, which is probably the punchiest kind of colour, or it's actually a tone, that you can use. And so we'll see how that comes together, and that'll sort of complete the painting. And then Digby's working on his now. And what are you thinking? You're going to do a background for yours or leave it white?

DIGBY WEBSTER: Well, I might get after all these colours finish, I'll get all this colour and mix it with the white and make something nice for the background.

NEIL TOMKINS: Sounds good. Sounds good.

[music playing]

DIGBY WEBSTER: There we are. How's that?

NEIL TOMKINS: Done-skis?


NEIL TOMKINS: And then we just got gonna sign it off, right?


NEIL TOMKINS: I'm lucky I saved a bit of room. Awesome. Cool. So that's the finished product. I think they turned out pretty cool.



DIGBY WEBSTER: I think so too.

NEIL TOMKINS: Yeah. Yeah, I really like how yours came together, Digby. I really like how you used the black and built up the lines. You were using pastels first, right?


NEIL TOMKINS: And then you went over the top with the black and then built up the colours and then went over the top again with the black, no?

DIGBY WEBSTER: No, I mean, like with a black, I went over the eyes.

NEIL TOMKINS: Oh, yes. That's right. That's right.

DIGBY WEBSTER: And then I get the brown at the back over the hair.

NEIL TOMKINS: Yeah, just like some of these brush strokes. That brush stroke, I really enjoy that, and the other part I really like especially is that ear there, how you've cut into the black with the blue. Oh, and then you've come back into a little bit with the black here and there. Nah it looks really good, Digby. I love it.

DIGBY WEBSTER: I like yours.

NEIL TOMKINS: I love it. Oh, thanks, man. Cheers. Cheers. Yeah, it's come together.

DIGBY WEBSTER: Is it amber or?

NEIL TOMKINS: [chuckles] I'm not sure. I think it's just it's from my imagination.

DIGBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I know.

NEIL TOMKINS: Is your own from your imagination or is that me maybe?

DIGBY WEBSTER: Well, it's my style.

NEIL TOMKINS: It is your style. That's for sure. That's for sure.

DIGBY WEBSTER: But that could be Heidi

NEIL TOMKINS: [chuckles] Could be. Could be. Cool. Well, good work, eh? Nice. Sweet. Well, thanks for joining us. What a fun experiment. I hope you all have a good paint. And stay tuned for more lessons, I suppose, and enjoy. That's the main part of it, enjoy it, enjoy the process.


[music playing]

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