Oil on canvas panel, 12×9″ (Larger)

I had a fun dream that I was on a date with Jack Nicholson so the next day I decided to paint his portrait. (I wouldn’t really want to date him–I think he’s scary but fascinating.) I downloaded some photos from the web, picked this one and set it up on my computer monitor.

In Photoshop I cropped the photo to 12″x9″ to make it the same proportions as my canvas and then set Photoshop’s grid to divided the image into thirds. Then with charcoal I drew the same grid on my canvas panel (dividing it into 9 rectangles). That made it easier to correctly sketch in the shapes that make up the face.

Here’s the set up with the painting nearly done. It so great to be able to work from the monitor instead of a printed photo though it still can’t compare to working from life:
Jack Nicholson portrait in progress
(Larger) (Alison and Pete your artwork is visible on my bulletin board, along with some other inspiring artists’ work)

When I thought I was done, I looked at both images in a mirror and saw a bunch of problems that needed fixing. I flipped the photo 180 degrees in Photoshop and turned the painting upside down too. That made it easier to spot and corrent problems as shapes instead of facial features which is harder. I wasn’t going for a perfect finished portrait, but rather was trying to have fun and continue practicing with oils.

While I was working was listening to a historical novel about Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the making of his famous painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party (my favorite impressionist painting of all time–it made me cry when I saw it in person). I’m enjoying Susan Vreeland’s book of the same name, but I can’t imagine a non-artist enjoying it as much, since it goes into great detail about colors, composition, art theory, and the struggles and joys of painting from life.

Here are a couple of great quotes by Renoir that I really loved:

“I always paint from life and never paint anything I don’t enjoy.”

“I make it a rule never to paint except out of pleasure.”

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Category:
Art theory, Dreams, Faces, Oil Painting, Other Art Blogs I Read, Painting, People, Photos, Portrait, Studio
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Join the conversation! 28 Comments

  1. Love it!! You have captured him perfectly!

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  2. Wow, this is great.
    I would mil to go on a date with Jack 😉
    You’ve got the painting just right!

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  3. Love it! Agree that he is fascinating, but scary. I really need to learn how to put a grid over a photo on Photoshop – but I never seem to want to spend time on learning to use the program better. Great idea as I begin my serious effort to draw faces.

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  4. Jana!! I think you’ve outdone yourself here! What a superlative job you’ve done!! From that expressive face and mussed hair, to the lines along the cheecks and gleam in the eye — YOU GOT IT — and it ZINGS!!! BRAVA!! BRAVA!!!! And oh yes, I love the quotes too!! GREAT JOB, cara!

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  5. Ditto to all comments! I can’t add any more!

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  6. Ha, Ha………. this is Jack!!! He gets the crazy looks on his face! Oh Jana, this is just great! You’ve got to be happy with your results on this one.

    Glad to see you read this book. I just finished it myself. I personally love the art talk in this book. You picked some great quotes.

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  7. My first thought was if I had a dream and Jack was in it, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A NIGHTMARE! What a great portrait you did here!!!
    As for photoshop, I’m going to go in this morning and try to figure out how to set up a grid, but if you are inclined to guide me through the steps it would be so appriciated.
    Also, I often am listening to books while I work in my studio, yesterday finishing up Atonement which I’m hoping to go see later today at the movie theater (I”ll brave the cold, pouring rain to go out). I have read Vreeland before so before I dl this novel, do you recomend it?
    Again, Jack is Jack here, very well done!!

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  8. Love it …. although I think dreaming about Jack Nicholson is a bit disturbing 😉 …

    Happy New Year!

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  9. About Photoshop grids (for Shirley and Marta):
    Using a grid in Photoshop is super easy. To turn it on, just go to View/Show/Grid. In Preferences, go to Grids, Guides… and pick the main divisions and the smaller ones (if any).

    About the book (for Marta): Yes, I do recommend the book, especially for artists…I don’t think non-artists would enjoy it as much though since about half of it is about the preparation for, thinking about and process of painting.

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  10. Ha. I love this. I’m working on a ‘representational’ piece right now (and I’m an abstract painter) so you have given me GREAT heart. I was feeling soooo silly (trying to do a jazz singer and it looks so ‘graphic’ or silly or something) But this Jack N. just
    thrills me….and it’s graphic and silly and WONDERFUL.

    You have great talent.

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  11. You really did capture him. Your portrait makes me think of that movie, About Schmidt. Excellent.

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  12. Ooh! Something is certainly clicking into place! Maybe the grid, maybe the inverted work;whatever you’re doing, keep doing it! Could you do one in watercolour from the same photo, just for comparison?
    xvcz oops! that’s a kitten comment!

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  13. Wonderful portrait! I enjoyed Vreeland’s book also & it led me to find out more about Gustave Caillebotte. I just love following the winding path!

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  14. Perfect image and very funny!

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  15. Wow, you got a likeness all right! He’s one person whose way of living his life has really marked his face—and I’m not talking granola, broccoli, and long, outdoorsy walks, either ;D.

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  16. Great piece!.. and you chose the perfect image to work from. So much character!

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  17. Diane, Thanks for the suggestion about doing it again in watercolor. I might just do that, though I am starting to feel as if I’ve had my fill of Jack! Thanks also for saying things are clicking into place…it definitely feels that way!

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  18. This is so unbelievably him, like only JN can be!!And you’re right, he’s a scary, but fascinating individualist. Great work
    Ronell

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  19. Scary to dream about Jack Nicholson and even scarier to have his portrait in your house! But I do love some of your quirky take on items you paint. Yes, you don’t have to be realistic.
    w.

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  20. Oh my, Jana! This is excellent. I love the way you’ve been able to capture that expression -I find it so difficult to do anything but a seriou/bored look.

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  21. This is fabulous and captures exactly what i think of when I think of Jack Nicholson. You should send the image (not the paitning) to him!

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  22. Jana this is wonderful! He makes me laugh and I want to see his latest movie The Bucket List

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  23. Fantastic portrait of good ol’ Jack Nicholson. That expression is just classic. No one has a smile like that….not to mention that hair.

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  24. You sure have captured him. And I guess that’s why you dreamed your were losing your hair? Because he’s losing his? That’s the way of dreams. I’m interested in the book you were listening to. Is the title Luncheon of the Boating Party? I also listen to books on tape, mostly in the car though.

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  25. Outstanding work! I just loved the way you have captured Jack!

    You are so talented Jana!

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  26. Wow – that is an awesome painting of Jack. He is scary I agree, but what a great actor he is.

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  27. What a fantastic likeness.

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