Hi everyone!

If you saw my recent blog post on my 18 portraits in March 18”, or followed my progress on my social media accounts, you may have seen the portrait of Pam Sue Slaton that I painted. I decided to highlight the progress of one of these alla prima portraits more in depth in a separate blog. I hope you enjoy below!

Pam Slaton is a local multi media artist. Be sure to look her up on FB and IG! She was a lot of fun to paint and we definitely had a blast talking art, art influences and heroes, and listening to an unusual playlist of cds. She enjoyed focusing her attention on my framed Time Magazine Cover by Marshall Arisman (one of my art heroes) during her session.

I decided to place Pam in front of a red backdrop. In the first 30 minutes of each portrait session, I complete background wash, line drawing, painting in the darkest shadows, and if I’m lucky, the background color (which is missing from the photo below).

You can see Pam in front of my easel below. I prefer to have the models directly in front or next to my easel to avoid eye fatigue when glancing from them to my canvas. It’s also easier to check problem areas that way.

Background color laid in along with Pam’s dress which was black. I try to paint back to front, meaning background color first followed by outfit, hair, and leaving the face for last. I think leaving the face last is a subconscious effort on my part. If everything else in the painting is finished, then there is no room for error on the face. I can’t afford to mess it up at that point. Also, painting everything around the face allows me to check the values/colors of the face with greater accuracy. It’s all about relationships amongst everything you see in the painting, never about one part of it in isolation.

Next image below, you can see how I’ve started painting in the neck and face, building dark to light. I try to paint as efficiently as possible. Once I lay down any paint and strokes, I try not to mess with them. It’s an exercise in so many ways.

Studio setup below. You can see my palette is just getting started with additional color mixing.

Final painting below. Oils are luminous and rich. You can see even more so when the paint is wet. Remember, Alla Prima means to complete the painting in one sitting. Much of the painting is “unfinished”, but it feels right. There’s something attractive and pleasing to me about leaving these works unfinished and raw. You can feel them taking form and see that a human hand touched them and created them, as opposed to something completely polished and finished.

Detail below: Pam wore really fun jewelry, lots of fun painting them. People were commenting on the ”detail” in many of these paintings. What’s interesting is the application of so little in these detail spots as opposed to doing too much which can take away from their realism and naturalism. You can see how the brushwork on Pam’s face moves with the planes of her face.

Her necklace was the final thing I completed in the painting. Surprisingly, it was what took the least amount of time.



Pam photographed me at one point while I was finishing up her portrait. It was interesting to see me from the model’s perspective. Glad I wasn’t making a strange face here!

Pam and I with her painting!


Special thanks again to Pam and everyone who sat for me during the month of March! I plan to keep up with portrait painting, in addition to my Fine Art and illustration work, so keep a look out for monthly studies in the future and also exhibition plans for the 18 I painted in March! Thanks again for taking the time reading through my blog post <3