David Pena
Painter of Portraits

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Senator Howell Heflin
© David Pena 2006
Former Senator Howell Heflin (Sold)
Oil on Canvas
30" x 40"

Former Senator Howell Heflin

Surrounded by his studies and reference photos, Pena begins a full-size painting by making a sketch of the figure on a single-primed linen canvas toned with a cool neutral ground. "The tone should be the value of the person's hand," he suggests. "That is, if I put my hand in front of the canvas, the tone should be no lighter or darker than my flesh color."

Pena draws the subject on his prepared canvas with either charcoal or a light wash of oil color. "Most of the time I sketch with oil and then block in the forms of the body with a broad bristle brush loaded with paint," he comments. "Then I can establish a clear understanding of how the picture will take shape. I want each painting to be a response to the person that I'm getting to know, so I look for ways to vary the pose, lighting, flesh tones, clothing, and background. This is probably the most exciting part of the process for me."

The painting continues in a direct manner with Pena applying thick strokes of paint that remain sharply defined. He prefers this kind of active, gestured look of obvious brush marks rather than the softneess of glazed applications of color. His palette includes titanium white, cadmium yellow, raw sienna, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue or ultramarine blue, viridian, burnt umber and black. The wooden palette he uses is cleaned at the end of each day; he coats it with a light application of motor oil that facilitates cleaning and helps keep the paint from drying on the surface.

Senator Strom Thurmond
© David Pena 2006
Strom Thurmond
with Oil on Canvas by David Pena

Portrait of Girl
© David Pena 2006
Oil on Canvas

David Pena 2018 All Rights Reserved
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