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  • Mail: info(AT)lydiapepin(DOT)com


Portrait Paintings

Recent Oil Paintings


Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Portrait artist Lydia Pepin

Portrait of Mayor Jim Watson

From Reference to Final Painting


Original Picture

Ideally I like to work  from pictures and footage that I have taken myself. But sometimes that just isn’t possible, especially this last year with the pandemic. In this case I already knew the subject, and therefore was familiar with his natural facial expressions. I was provided the picture above to base my work on. While it is a great photograph, the bottom is cut off and we don’t see his feet nor the bottom of the instrument.


I wanted to create a painting with more vitality and better composition for a painting, than what is seen in the photograph. I raised the right arm (changing the position of the fingers of the left hand accordingly ), I moved his legs, and made some minor adjustments here and there, all to create a better silhouette and stronger composition. I sketch digitally, allowing me to work on various versions and test out a multitude of options. It is also quicker for me to clean my lines and provide a nice sketch for my client to review before starting to work on my painting.

Oil Painting

Working from the sketch, I then created my painting over many layers of oil paint. (see my other process examples for my step by step of oil painting.

Stages of Painting

Stages of oil painting portrait

Once I am happy with my study / sketch, I am now ready to work on my oil painting. I sometimes start by applying an under colour, which gives a general “theme” to the painting. For portraits, I often go for a warm colour, which transpires to the whole painting. I then create a Grisaille in acrylic paint which serves as an underpainting in gray monochrome which gives a sculptural and three dimensional effect. On top I then apply many, many layers of semi-translucent oil paint, alternating between warm and cold colors. And finally, the last touches of details followed by “washes” which are translucent colors added to intensify shadows or give a sense of unity of colour to some areas.

Above are some pictures of some of the key steps of my painting process.

Recent Paintings