Painting the Head in Oil

Amazon Price: $27.50 (as of December 3, 2017 3:02 PM – Details). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Dust jacket notes: "'I cannot think of anything more difficult, or more fascinating, than attempting to paint an impression of a human being, in oils, in one sitting.' John Howard Sanden is a master of this technique, and here – in a book based on his famous demonstration/lecture series at the Art Students League of New York – he shows you, step by step, exactly how to achieve a startling likeness in a single painting session. Sanden begins by discussing the materials you will need and the colors you will use. He explains the basics of drawing the head – angles, mapping, plumbing, positive and negative shapes, perspective, measuring and relating the features. Next, Sanden explains how to use values – lights and darks – to define the planes of the face. Then, in a chapter on color, Sanden shares his own method of mixing and tubing the paints used for the flesh tints; in this way, the painter has a complete range of flesh colors at his fingertips without having to mix them each time he needs them. After an orientation chapter devoted to the principles of painting procedure, the author invites you to look over his shoulder as he demonstrates how to paint the components of a portrait: the eyes, the nose, and upper face, including a demonstration of how to paint eyeglasses; the mouth chin, neck, and ears, including how to paint facial hair and the teeth in a smiling mouth; and various skin tones and hair types. Then Sanden puts the parts of a portrait together and shows you how to plan and execute a complete portrait. Step-by-step demonstrations of finished portraits, each step reproduced in full color, illustrate the painting process from start to finish." Includes 42 full-color plates and 90+ black and white illustrations, with bibliography and index.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill; 1st edition (January 1, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823036405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823036400
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

Customer Reviews

This is the oil portrait painting bible.

34 people found this helpful.
 on February 18, 1999
Whether a beginner or experienced oil painter, this is a must-have book for your art techniques library. Sanden begins with general oil painting information about materials and equipment. He reviews his color palette in detail, discussing warms and cools, earth colors, and mixing your own flesh tints. He covers the basics of drawing the head and then talks about value, light, halftone, and shadow. Sanden’s in depth color review includes hue, value and intensity, color mixing recipes and charts which you can make on canvas paper to keep for future reference. He shows you how to set up your palette, and gives clear and concise step-by-step painting instructions. After a review of general painting procedures, he paints (with examples) the head, including the mouth, teeth, chin, ears, forehead, hair, eyes, eyeglasses, and nose. Explanations are very clear and easy to follow. Lastly, he tells you how to capture the essence of your sitter. There are several color examples of his work throughout the book, as well as, black and white ones. He also discusses dark flesh tones, sitters attire, and the background. He encourages the painter to reduce the portrait into five parts: the light side of the face, the dark side of the face, the hair, the costume, and the background; to simplify. I use this book with my oil painting classes.

Portraiture Painting – one very successful man’s method

2 people found this helpful.
 on November 14, 2014
By NovicePlus
This book was, I believe, the first published by Sanden – the first printing was 1976. I recently purchased the book used to see if I might develop a few skills to improve on my efforts at portraiture. I found the text full of detail and philosophy on painting. For this novice painter it was a bit overwhelming at first; however, with repeated readings and practice the text became a good guide for developing painting and portraiture skills. In addition to the attention to drawing, brush stroke and painting instruction, I found most useful the detail given to the palette of colors used by the author. Here he describes in detail his formulation for the Pro Mix Color System – a set of colors now commercially available but well within the novices ability to mix from basic colors found in their own paint box. I plan to keep this book in my library for I find myself repeatedly returning to it for instruction and inspiration.

Highly Recommend

2 people found this helpful.
 on June 11, 2014
By Peggy S.
This book is excellent for showing you how to mix flesh tones for light, medium and dark comlexions. It also teaches , step by step how paint the lights, shadows, and highlights. Finally, this books gives excellent close up photos so that you can see brush strokes. Highly recommend for beginner or advanced painters.

Beautiful and well written – excellent addition to the artist’s library

3 people found this helpful.
 on May 19, 2011
By J. L. Powell
This is an excellent and really not all that advanced book on painting portraits. It is not for beginners in art but if you have a good foundation in drawing etc you will find this very instructive and easy to understand. I really like how he shows you how to set up your palette, and the demos are very clear and simple to understand.


4 people found this helpful.
 on April 1, 2011
By Likes_Books
I’ve only started to go through the book, but I can see already that it will prove helpful. It is a nice companion to his 29-steps book on portrait painting. Many of the images in this book are in black and white. I find this doesn’t bother me at all because it helps to see the tonality.

Great book. Bought used

 on July 27, 2016
By S. Mesko
Timeless teaching! Great book. Bought used, but in perfect condition.

Five Stars

 on October 30, 2016
By rc74
I love it

Arrived early and just as described

 on May 5, 2016
By skylark

Four Stars

 on June 25, 2015
By clifford
Good overall review of author’s methods.

excellent instruction book for portraiture

3 people found this helpful.
 on March 11, 2010
By Richard D. Price
I’m not sure why this book is still out of print. The dated look is to be expected, but the advice is rock solid and will never change, As a painter, this book has changed my perspective on portraiture for sure.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Leave a Reply

Find-Info.Org © 2015 All Rights Reserved Frontier Theme
The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or
Home Privacy Policy Terms Of Use Contact Us Affiliate Disclosure DMCA Earnings Disclaimer