An oil painting demo for you

I’ve been meaning to create something free for you to enjoy for a while now. Insecurity got the better of me lately. It’s interesting how that works and it got me thinking (and perhaps even painting).

The more I allowed myself to give in to insecurity, the worse it actually got. First I thought, ‘well, maybe postpone my new course for a bit, work on it a little more’. Then I started deleting files. Then I got stressed out even thinking about doing a casual free video. And then…well, just nothing then I guess. 

If everything fails, my reaction is to throw myself in at the deep end. Not always smart, but what are you gonna do right? I figured if I wasn’t gonna make videos where every move is right up my comfort zone, I might as well make a video about being uncomfortable with an unfamiliar medium. Like oils. So here you go. This isn’t a very instructional video, I ramble a lot and sound like a bad dear-diary-podcast but I hope you get something out of it nonetheless.

So, long story short, here’s what you need:

  • A substrate suitable for oil paint. I’m using oil paint paper because it’s cheap and great to practice on.
  • (Water-soluble) oil paint in Titanium White and Ivory Black. Or some other black, brown or really, whatever color you want.
  • A couple of brushes. I use one of those cheaper student-grade sets from my art supplier. They have a few sizes in one tube.
  • A rag/cloth. And some paper towel.
  • A cup of water if you’re using water-soluble paint.
  • The reference photo in B/W can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. You can also download the original version here.

I hope you enjoy this demo somewhat. Please do let me know if you have any questions, comments or even ideas for things you want to see in future videos. You can contact me through Facebook. You can post your work or any questions in my Facebook Art Group.

18 thoughts on “An oil painting demo for you”

  1. Thank you Sabra-I appreciate your honesty and I get it. I’m literally throwing in the towel at this moment. This will push me forward. My right arm and shoulder will be non functional for 3-6 months. This might be a non dominant hand exercise unless I attempt it very soon. 💓

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you are in that place Vivian! Painting or drawing with the non-dominant hand can be interesting and rewarding, but do take care of yourself. No need to add more stress or frustration while you already have enough going on. I hope something positive comes out of this! <3

  2. I would love it if you did a series on individual features of the face. This was an excellent demo and I look forward to more from you…but no pressure. Take care of yourself …Love you!

  3. Thank you Sabra! This was perfect for me to enjoy this morning! Turned out beautifully!!
    As always, I admire your honesty and sincerity, your braveness in being you. For me, these feelings of insecurity and long-winded unease that come along with painting portraits are one of the reasons I don’t do them very often. It’s hard to go through the “ugly phase” and having faith it turns out good in the end. I am also impatient and need “immediate” results. 🤭🤣🤭 But, like you said, we have to keep the playfulness alive and enjoy the journey. That’s what art is about. Thank you again!! 🌻🌻🙏🙏

    1. I very much relate to what you said, also the immediate results…yes, so true! But even in other topics than portraits, we can push ourselves, explore and have fun. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. Thank you Sabra for your raw honesty about the process. Contrary to most instructional videos offered on line, payed or free, I believe you are unique in the reality of an artist’s struggle and the stages that get us to our goal whatever it may be.
    I am great full for any and all that you share, from technique to thoughts and feelings. It lets me know that their is hope for me and that I am not alone with the ups and downs of art making.
    Thank you

  5. This looks so intriguing and I was just going to try it in acrylics or charcoal as usual because I’m leery of oils. BUT then realized you were using water mixable oils….. Do you mind sharing what brand you were using? Did you try other brands too? Going to get just a black and white to try and wanted your input before purchasing.

    1. Sorry for the late reply! I have a tube of Cobra Study Titanium White (by Talens) and my black is from Lukas Berlin. I also tried the professional Cobra paints from Talens and also Winsor & Newton Artisan. I like the last two a lot, but for studying Lukas is also great.

  6. Thank you Sabra – fantastic demo …. I enjoyed every minute watching you paint and your words. I can’t wait to have a play.

  7. Patricia Wilson

    Just found this video and loved it! Thank you so much for your free stuff, really appreciate it. Love the finished painting and will definitely attempt a black and white painting soon. 🥰🤩

    1. Sabra Awlad Issa

      You’re welcome and I hope you enjoy the class! Painting in black and white is such a nice way to work with any material <3

  8. Thank You Sabra, for this video and for putting into words for me so many feelings that I have no words for. I totally get how important it is to practice and explore from a place of non ego and how hard that can be at times. I understand where you are coming from in what you believe is important for you to teach and that is why I keep coming back to your workshops as I resonate so much with what you say and enjoy seeing your finished results. For me, you are the best kind of teacher. I hope to do this portrait practice starting this week. I am still figuring out things, what it is that I like in my work, what I want to see more of or to get away from and where it is I am wanting to go. I keep coming back to the wonder of exploration that I see in your work. Again, thank you. Marlene

    1. Thank you so much Marlene <3 I like the phrase "wonder of exploration", that's really what art is all about for me on my good days. It's what keeps me going. Thank you!

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