How to Paint a Mouth in Oil

Skill Level : 2 Intermediate, 3 Advanced

Medium : Oil Painting

Subject : Portraits

Tutor : Nolan Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 7 minutes

Avg Rating : No Ratings Yet

Gold Level or Higher Class

Class Description

In this portrait painting class we will paint the mouth.

During the class you will learn :

1) About the different ways to compose your portrait paintings so that they are interesting to look at and ensure they captivate the viewer.
2) How to check that your composition will work
3) How to paint mouth and teeth that sparkle and add emotion to the portrait.

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Class Tutorial

Tracing the Template

template of the mouth on the canvas

Transfer the mouth template to the canvas. Take advantage of Nolan's very useful tip on using baking (waxed) paper to be sure you get the lines in the correct places.

Colour Mixing

colors used to paint the mouth

Study the reference photo to determine all the tones and then prepare to mix the paints for the mouth, teeth, and surrounding skin.

Blocking in Various Tones of Paint

blocking in the tonal ranges

Refer to your reference photo and block in the colors for the various lip, teeth, and skin tones in the appropriate places on the canvas. Mix additional tones as needed.

Blending the Skin Tones

blending the tonal ranges

Once you have the basic colors in place, begin the blending process on the skin surrounding the lips.  Start by blending the colors of the upper and lower lip into each other.  Remember the importance of getting the shaded areas correct to ensure a good likeness.

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Blending the Lip Tones

blending the lip tones

Take care in getting the planes of the upper and lower lips correct, in creating the "looking in" effect, and accurately portraying the roundness of the lips.  Refer to the reference photo to get the proper "cracking" effect on the bottom lip.

Blending the Teeth Tones

blending the teeth tones

Painting the teeth will require more steps.
A. Block in the overall value for each tooth.  Do the same for the gums.
B. Add the shadows that will clearly define each tooth while enhancing the thickness of the upper lip.

C. Use a touch of tooth color to suggest bottom teeth

Refining the Painting

painting of the mouth

Continually clean your brush and work carefully so as not to contaminate your colors. Stand back occasionally and compare your work with the reference photo. Allow your painting to dry before going back to rework the areas of the brightest brights and darkest darks which might have lost their definition during the blending process.

The teeth especially will require fine detailing to get the gleaming highlights correctly.


About Nolan Clark

Read more about Nolan Clark

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