Oil Portrait Painting – Dry Brush Technique on Canvas Instead of Paper


Some years ago, I ran into a phenomenal technique for oil portrait painting called dry brush, drybrush or drybrushing and so forth.

This technique was created and developed in Russia in the ’80s. Street portrait artists uses this technique to successfully produce photo-realistic portraits. The basic technique consists of loading a “touch” of oil on a paintbrush, evenly distributing the oil in the bristles and rubbing it against a tough paper, such as watercolor paper. The results of this technique are nothing but outstanding!

I started studying this technique a while back and I ran into a quality problem: what would happen to that painting after a few decades? How is the paper going to look then? How would the oil paint  chemically react on the paper? It’s known that oil paint rots the canvas if the canvas isn’t previously primed. Something called “Gesso” (the primer), is used to create a layer that separates the canvas from the oil, preventing the canvas from rotting when the oil starts to “dry” (oil doesn’t actually dry, but oxidizes instead).

This problem or thought started to bother me more and more. How long is this portrait painting going to last? Yes, I could make a portrait and get the cash, have the customer completely satisfied with the painting, but then what? Something still bothered me––it bothered me inside.

When I give a finished painting to someone, I want the painting to have the best quality I can possibly get, artistically and technically. That’s one of the reasons why I love oil painting so much––because technically it can produce a lot and because it lasts. And it lasts for centuries. That is what I want for my customers: something that they love and that will last. Heavy-duty art. In the future, someone may point to a painting on a wall and say to a child: “… and that painting there is a portrait of your beautiful great-great grandmother.” To me, that’s priceless, you see.

I had researched, as much as I could, the use of drybrush technique on canvas instead of paper. I couldn’t found much, but after I played around with the different oil elements and materials, I find a very workable method to produce portrait paintings from a photograph to an oil paint done in drybrush technique and on canvas! Eureka! Eureka!

A traditional oil painting method (using colors and multi-layers) takes a lot of production work, considering that each layer has to dry before the next layer can be applied.

This drybrush oil painting technique makes it possible to get, at a very affordable price, a portrait painting from a photo to an oil portrait painting within a very reasonable amount of time.

Because of the longevity factor, another dilemma I had was the value of the painting. In modern times a person spends a large amount of money on a car, for example. Sometimes amounts comparable to one year’s worth of work! But what will happen with that car in the future years from now? How is that car going to look in 10 or 20 years from the moment that the car was bought? Is it going to be even possible to drive it still? We are talking here about spending an enormous amount of money on something that is going to last only a few years. Luckily for the art lover, that’s not the case with oil paintings. In some cases the painting will even increase in monetary value as it gets older.

Humans have tried for millennia to extend life in different ways. To make the body to look as good as it was in its 20s. To avoid wrinkles, gray hair, illnesses. To improve the body’s shape and eventually to safeguard the body from death. Well, that ain’t gonna happen, as we all know. . . Think about how profitable the businesses are that promise and work hard to make a body look or feel better, from make-up to surgery, healthy food and science. But artists have discovered the best way yet to get a person looking good for at least centuries: oil painting.

If you are also as happy as I am with this technique and if you are seeking to get a very long lasting portrait made from a photograph to an oil painting with dry brush technique, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity now before the prices go much higher due to the demand.

  1. Zbyszek kiszcz
    Zbyszek kiszcz
    January 27, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Could you be so kind to tell me what kind of medium is useful for dry Brush technique? Thanks in advance, Zbyszek, Poland.

    • Superadmin54
      Superadmin54 • Post Author •
      January 28, 2017 at 12:22 am

      Dear Zbyszek, I will share that data privately via email. Best, Fernando

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