About

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Welcome to DG Paints (formerly DG Oil Painting Techniques). My name is David Gray. I’ve been painting professionally since 1997 and full time since late 2002. I also teach workshops on oil painting portraiture and still life throughout the United States and abroad. To view my comprehensive CV please click this LINK.

I started this blog to help the learning painter. It can also be used as supplemental material by my students. Here, I expand a little on some of my thought processes on making a picture. Though my expertise is in oil painting, I believe any pictorial artist using any medium and seeks a naturalistic/realistic approach may benefit from the information herein.

This blog may also contain other aspects of the artist life, outside of mere technique. Here I may muse on what else goes on inside my mind, and the minds of others of the artistic stripe.

Thank you for visiting. You may view my regular website at DavidGrayArt.com.

Best wishes and happy painting!

DG

Sign up for my e-newsletter HERE.

66 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hello David, I have followed your videos in you tube channel and was very impressed with your work. I always liked to draw but never took a chance with the inks. Something I want to do immediately after I saw your work. I would like to practice that color palette that taught us in one of your videos. But I do not find such colors and ink marks in Brazil. Could you suggest me substitute colors? Here in my country one of the best ink marks that have access is “Gato Preto” (Black Cat) whose color palette you can view in the link
    http://www.gatopreto.com.br/wp_gato/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/tinta_a_oleo.pdf Thank you in advance for your attention,
    Wagner Vieira de Almeida

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    1. I see most of the colors I use. You can use burnt sienna in place of transparent red oxide. What I don’t see is raw umber, which is not absolutely essential. The exact colors I use are not that important. You can form an adequate palette with what is available here. Good luck!

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    1. I like to use a little — a VERY LITTLE — half walnut oil/half mineral spirits when necessary to thin the paint a very little bit. I also like to use some kind of drying medium. My favorite alkyd gel medium is no longer being made by Daniel Smith Art Supplies. I’m currently experimenting with some mediums by Natural Pigments. So far the jury’s out on what I like best. But I really mostly like the paint by itself. I use M. Graham paints, which are nice and buttery and don’t really require a medium for my touch and way of working.

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      1. David, first of all thanks for sharing with all us, learning painters your valueable experience! As upto the alkyd medium mentioned, did you try out walnut alkyd medium by the same mfr as you love which is M. Graham? What is your opinion on it?
        Thanks!

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      2. Dear David,
        I studied in Paris and made copies in the Louvre of Caravaggio and Rubens.I am all about the old master´s technique and I really appreciate your skills.Natural Pigments had a great concept but helas they do not paint and I am very disappointed by their oils and gels ,specially their cooked oils and earth tones are awful.Their Lapis was great,but they stopped it.Their hematite is special but this is about it.Their database is inaccurate because the Museums only reveal half of the truth.
        Kremer has a nice kind of Maroger medium,I was so curious about the Daniel Smith Gel and they stopped it…cooked walnut oil seems the best.Blue Ridge has a spectacular sundried walnut oil…
        If you find sth you like let me know.On colors i agree 100% with you.
        Ora et labora and the best to you!!!

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  2. Hello.David.
    I am fascinated by your skill.
    I study. It is important to have a proper consecration of the workshop.
    please tell us the model of your lamp.

    What features of this lamp? Sincerely Alena.

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  3. Hi David, your videos are truly inspirational. You have a tremendous gift. I wanted to get some of my paintings framed at a local art supply store and was a surprised that one would cost nearly as much as a piece of furniture. I want to start trying to build my own frames with some wood from Home Depot, a miter saw and some nice router bits. It may take me a few tries before I figure out how to get something that looks decent. I was curious if you ever make your own frames and if you have any advice. Videos about making custom frames for canvases seem to be scarce. Thank you in advance if you have time to respond.

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    1. Hi. Yes, good custom frames are expensive. I’ve tried to cut corners with cheaper ready-mades. I’ve also made my own frames on occasion. To make a really nice frame takes time and some good tools. Not to mention know how. But it can be done. There are a lot of books out there about how to make frames. Check your local library for starters. In the end I’ve settled for someone else making my frames. It gives me more time to paint. Good luck!

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  4. Hi I’ve been following you on YouTube for a year now. I had a couple questions that I don’t trust anyone else to answer but you. I have a high respect for your technique. Can you glazed on Oil paper ? I wanted to try oil paper instead of canvas. Also my second question was how do you know when to paint your underpainting in blue ,green raw umber? I want to paint a series of portraits but I’m not sure what color for the underpainting. I wish I could attend one of your workshops but I Live in South Carolina. Thank you for any advice and taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you so much I appreciate any feedback. I will continue to watch your upcoming videos and it admire your work from afar. Nikki

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    1. Nikki, I’m not really familiar with oil paper. If this is paper designed for oil painting then I don’t see why not. I do know that the oil paper will probably be absorbent. So for best glazing effect I would think you would want some sort of underpainting in place. Sorry I can’t be of too much help with that.

      As for what kind of underpainting to do. That will all depend on what you want your painting to look like. I myself prefer a colored underpainting. I use a full palette. In the past, it’s true that many painters used greens and/or umbers for their underpainting. In the best examples of this technique you can see a beautiful effect much like real skin. Especially in the half tones they allowed the cool underpainting to show through. You’ll just have to give it a try if you think you’ll like that effect. But be aware that it will take some expertise. Too much corrective painting and the effect will be lost.

      There are many approaches to painting. I have found a method that works pretty well for me — for my personality and for what I want to communicate. My approach is fairly modern. It’s pretty direct and doesn’t rely at all on special effects. So enjoy the journey in finding your way! Best wishes!

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  5. Thank you so much for the reply! I will consider everything you mentioned ! Forgive the spelling in my first comment, typing on my cell phone!

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  6. Hello David: your YouTube video demos are very good lessons for me. I appreciate your showing your palette colors. Is there a chance you may post a demo showing how you mix your various skin tones? No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the subtle changes you accomplish. Winds up a pink clay colored mess! Thanks. Joan

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    1. Hi Joan. Yeah, that’s a tough one. I’ve been thinking about how to show that for awhile. Thing is, as soon as you change the complexion of the model or the lighting situation, whatever I show you may not help. Know what I mean? Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Hello David I have seen a lot of you youtube video’s, wonderful and educational.
    I do have a question about the skin colors what colors do you use the most, and than from light to dark colors of The skin
    I always have trouble with that
    Thank you, Rita

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    1. Hi Rita. Thank you. It’s not an easy answer. I often use the same colors whether light or dark. I just use them in different proportions. If you want to keep it simple, see what you can do with just raw umber, terra rosa, yellow ochre, and white. You’d be amazed at the variety of skin tones you can achieve using just those four colors.

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  8. David, Your four day workshop at Salmagundi was brilliant. I worked on a painting today using your tiling technique and the result was amazing. Aside from my fellow student, my teacher was seriously impressed. I also, for the first time, understood how to paint eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Elaine Clayman

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing so many of you techniques. You have helped me tremendously to understand so many aspects of painting and push me to new levels I thought I would never achieve. So a very big thank you for all of that!
    But here is my problem. I am currently using acrylics and I really want to get back to oils. I suffer from migraines and these are often triggered by strong smells. I really don’t want to go with the OMS route since you are still going to be inhaling unpleasant stuff. I’ve read of using various oils as solvents. Do you have any thoughts?

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  10. Hi David,

    Amazing work mate. Just a quick question, what canvas do you use for your main work?, and do you plan to do a video tutorial at any point, as in a commercial one.

    Best Wishes,

    Sam

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    1. Thank you. I paint on both panel and canvas. The canvas I use tends to be pretty smooth. The exact type doesn’t really matter. I’ve used different kinds to similar effect.

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  11. Oi David,
    Adoro seu trabalho. Os retratos que faz são perfeitos.
    Estou começando nesse mundo maravilhoso da pintura e querendo fazer também retratos. Infelizmente, não falo inglês, mas mesmo assim fico assistindo seus vídeos, tentando entender o que diz. Estou escrevendo porque queria ver a possibilidade de você fazer um vídeo explicando os detalhes, desde o início, de como fazer um retrato, com legendas em português.
    Sei que deve ser ocupado, mas queria que pensasse com carinho nessa possibilidade…adoraria assistir sua aulas entendendo o que diz….
    Um abraço de luz

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    1. Obrigado pelo seu comentário. Espero fazer um vídeo no futuro. Eu não tenho certeza se legendas em português será possível. Eu vou considerá-lo. Obrigado pela sugestão. Estou usando o Google Translate, então eu espero que você entenda o que estou escrevendo. Atenciosamente, DG

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      1. Ok, David, entendo o que diz..
        Também uso o Google Translate e já ajuda bastante a entender algumas dicas que dá por escrito.
        Parabéns por seu trabalho e obrigada pela atenção.
        Att.
        Salette

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  12. David, you are so very inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to share with us, really.

    I’m in NYC and want to learn portrait painting. Brand new passion for me. Do you know of someone in particular that you highly recommend studying under? Currently I’m looking at doing a class with Marvin Mattelson.

    Thank you again and please keep the information flowing!

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    1. Well, if you’re in NYC there is no end of good painters. Whether they teach or not is the trick. I’m sure you’re aware of The Art Students League as well as Grand Central Atelier. You could start there and ask around. From what I’m aware of MM knows his stuff. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot with him. Good luck!

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  13. Good afternoon David. I have to say that you inspired me the most in switching from canvas painting to portrait face painting . I noticed that sometimes you will charcoal sketch the face before painting and sometimes you don’t. Is there a reason for this. I have been painting now for only 2 years. I never went to school so I have picked up some techniques from your videos. When would you say is the point where you felt it was too easy you can do it practically with eyes closed.

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    1. Hello. I rarely make a full charcoal drawing before I paint. I usually just do a linear drawing. And it never gets easy. For me, painting is always difficult. Kind regards, – DG

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  14. Hello
    I admire your work.
    I just purchased M Graham’s oil paints and walnut oil ..problem is I am allergic to most paint thinners so what is an alternative to thinning the paint with walnut oil for a 1:1 ratio ? I am painting in the Flemish method. I generally paint wet on wet but wanted to try the Flemish way.. Thank you for any advice.

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    1. Hi. Some people use walnut oil only as a kind of thinner. You can wash your brushes in cheap vegetable oil. Also, you may wish to try some solvent free mediums such as Oleogel from Natural Pigments, or Gamblin’s Solvent Free Medium. I confess I’m not an expert on this subject. Good luck finding your way.

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      1. Thank you for a reply! I just read that I could oil in with walnut oil and paint in a layering process that way instead of using solvents.. I’ll give it a go and see what happens..

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  15. Wow your art is so amazing! Just curious, how long does it usually take for you to complete a painting? I watched your video on ‘Painting the Portrait’ It was so amazing and i was just curious how long in real time it took. Anyway, you are such an inspiration and your art is awesome.

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  16. Hi David,

    You should make a video demos for downloads. I would attend one of your classes but my work won’t allow me to be away that long. I watched most , if not all, your youtube videos but really interested in learning, and hopefully, paint effects as close to yours.

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  17. Hi David,
    I have a question about being represented by a gallery/dealer. This is all a little sudden for me, but I have been approached and really have no idea of the pro’s and con’s of this kind of thing since painting is more of a recreational activity for me than a business opportunity! However, can you point me towards some sources of information on the topic? Any thoughts on your experiences would also be helpful.
    Clare

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  18. Hi David,
    Ive just checked your work in you tube im a beginner im very eager to know what are the colors you usually used for skin tones?if you could provide me a list of them that would be great!thank you and more power!

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    1. Hi and thanks for watching. The colors I use are not important. What’s important is that you can observe what you are seeing and understand how you wish to interpret that in paint. The actual tube colors don’t mean anything. Just make sure you have an adequate palettes with primary colors and some earth tones. There is a YouTube channel with my normal palette colors if you’re interested.

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  19. Hi David. I’m a university student studying fine art. I’ve been researching many many artists who fit ‘the’brief’ and have been ticking all the boxes, however I am a traditional painter in my heart, but find that I am being discouraged in this approach and feel coerced into painting more ‘freely’. It’s breaking my heart and I am feeling very let down and frustrated. You have stayed true to the classical style of painting whilst giving your work a timeless quality. I need to stay true to my heart and, after going to an exhibition of Caravaggio’s work in London last week, I am determined to fight my corner at the university and paint in the way I want. I have never felt so moved by an artist’s work until I saw this exhibition and your work has compelled me to stand up for classical art. Have you had problems/difficulties with the same attitude from non-believers of the traditional approach (I’m not allowed to say ‘style’…). It would really help my cause if you could give me something that would back up my argument. I am considering starting my own classes for traditional/classical painters when I finish this course. Many thanks for your time and for all your amazing videos and blog. You are my number one ‘contemporary classical painter’.

    Regards

    Jacqui

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    1. Hi Jacqui. Your challenge at university is a common tale. How you face it will depend upon your instructors. You don’t want to cause a miserable situation for yourself. But I sympathize with you. I don’t know why there is such a move in the academic world against the traditional approach. In every other “old” art form: literature, dance, and music, students are required to know the past and to learn from it. You’ll never get into Julliard if you don’t know your scales, your fundamentals, and a solid knowledge and repertoire of the important classics. There is a dogmatic and totally untrue view that in traditional art “it has all been done before”. Hogwash! Perhaps many things have been repeated, that’s true. But it’s still a legitimate art form and artists today are still speaking with a new voice and with lively nuance in this traditional dialect. I don’t have much more to say on the matter. Only know that your convictions are shared by many and I truly hope you can find your way.

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  20. Thank you for your reply David. It means a lot. I spoke to the head of the fine art dept today and told him how I felt. He told me that I had already mastered the difficult technical skills and that they were just trying to move me forward by trying other things (I am not convinced)…then handed me my assessment grades..two A’s. I’m obviously happy with my grades but have told him that I have to follow my heart. I am now looking forward to the second half of my course and putting all your shared knowledge into practice. Many many thanks David. I look forward to following your blog and tutorial videos.

    Regards

    Jacqui

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  21. Good afternoon David. I am a beginner to oils and have been wanting to try alla prima for a while. May I know if mediums or solvents are required for this technique, or do you use any of these for your works? Thank you in advance!

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  22. Hello sir, did you add anything to the oil paint? I mainly use ceiling board as my medium since canvas is expensive in Nigeria

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  23. Hello David. i can’t realistic color mixing in palatte, because exact colors is impossible for me, please teach me, how mix good realistic colors and how learn color mixing.
    i using Yellow, Red, Blue, Black and Zinc White. i want have good exact colors but i can’t this.
    Sorry for my English language.
    Thanks.

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    1. Well, “exact” colors is not really important. What is important is that the colors work well together within the world of the painting. I never try to match or mix “exact colors”. I just make a pleasing harmony with my colors in my painting. With color I am inspired mostly by nineteenth century French academic painting. So my color choices are influenced by the paintings I love. Good luck and don’t give up.

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      1. Thanks for your reply David.
        I want to ask you that wich color use for shadows? Please tell me, i interested for you because you’re good Artist.
        Thank you very much.

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        1. Well, it’s not so easy to answer. It really depends. But you can mix a nice warm color with raw umber and cadmium red to start. You may need to add a little yellow ochre, too. But recipes often don’t work. It depends on the context and you need to be ready to find the way. There is often more than one answer to the question here.

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          1. Thank you very very much!
            Your answer very helped me. Sorry for questions, because i have one question and sorry.
            I don’t know oil mediums, this is linseed oil and liquin, you using? i see your palette and i see three oil medium, what is this?
            I don’t know many thing about to oil paint because all time i drawing at the Paper and i want start learn to oil painting.
            my name is Lionel.

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Tips, lessons, and other musings on the art life

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