Craig Nelson

Craig Nelson: A Quick Studies Oil Portrait From Life

Video Length: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
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Craig Nelson uses his quick studies approach to develop a portrait of an in-studio model, in a logical manner, from a line drawing to a beautiful three dimensional portrait. 

Craig discusses and demonstrates: lighting; preparing the painting surface; developing a ghost drawing to a final drawing; color selections; blocking in skin tones and hair; subtle adjustments to achieve lifelike flesh; when not to refine your strokes; and delicate brush work for successful hair.

Craig talks about all his decisions as he paints. You learn where to look for details and place touches of strong color and value that add energy to your portrait. Craig's Quick Studies approach helps you gain confidence to paint larger, more refined portraits after many of the basic issues are resolved in the quick studies format.

Craig Nelson uses his quick studies approach to painting to hone his skills and solve new artistic problems. He believes that painters gain confidence and learn faster when they work at an accelerated pace. In this workshop Craig teaches you how to complete a lively oil portrait in about an hour.

You'll get an insider's look at Craig's process. Throughout the workshop, you'll have a clear view of his palette as he mixes and tests hues on his canvas. As Craig paints, you'll also see his live model. You'll always have a reference as skin tones and highlights jump from the model's face to Craig's canvas before your eyes.

Craig begins the portrait with a ghost drawing - a light sketch that will guide him through the early stages. He shows you how to define new shapes before blocking in skin tones and adding basic shadows to the face. You'll learn to see key elements in the correct order and give your details a place to sit later in the process.

As he turns his attention to detail, Craig offers expert advice on color selection. He teaches you to see subtle variation in hue, like the splashes of lavender on the model's forehead and the yellow highlights on his left cheek. Craig demonstrates practical and efficient methods for painting hair. He teaches you to layer colors, blur edges, and vary your strokes to create texture. In a matter of minutes he renders a full beard and finishes the hair with a flourish.

Craig finishes the workshop with a wealth of strategies for refining detail. You'll learn to capture fine lines and cast shadows as he adds glasses to the portrait and to regroup and repair when you make a mistake. Craig will help you develop a confident economy of brushwork as you learn his rapid, rewarding approach to painting. To improve your problem-solving skills and make every stroke matter, join Craig Nelson in A Quick Studies Oil Portrait from Life.

Bonus Clip: "Eyes in Oil"

In this clip from his video workshop, A Quick Studies Oil Portrait from Life, Craig Nelson demonstrates how to paint life-like human eyes. You learn to identify important features in a model's eyes and translate them accurately to your portrait using quick, decisive strokes. Craig tests and revises colors and alternates between lights and darks to constantly refine facial features.



In this relaxed, candid conversation with Craig Nelson we asked him questions we thought you would most like to ask if you could have dinner with an artist.


Since 1970, Dr. Craig Nelson has been depicting figures landscapes and various environments in rich vibrant oils. His passion for the subjects relates directly to his brush work, weaving mood and emotion into each work of art.

After graduating from Art Center College of Design with distinction, Craig began his career working in Los Angeles for recording companies and motion picture studios, creating portraits and other subjects with strict deadlines. Craig's countless movie posters include "The Cowboys", "Slapshot", and "Homeward Bound" among many others. His album cover credits include, "Sammy Davis Jr. Live", "Rick Nelson, Country" and "Natalie Cole, Thankful" along with many more.

Collectors include, James Garner, Neil Simon, Toyota Corporation, UCLA Dental and Law School, the U.S. Air Force, UCSF Dental School and many more. He has won over 200 awards of excellence and several gold medals. The "Arts for the Parks" national competition awarded Craig the Grand Teton Natural History Award for a painting entitled "Dining Alone". His work is collected in the United States, Asia as well as Europe.