UPS Delivers at Night, Oil on Canvas, 20×16

(Update: This painting won second place for Portrait of the Year on Making a Mark in 2012.)

One night last winter two UPS guys arrived in the dark to deliver a dozen boxes of the flooring materials for my studio. I had started a series of paintings of people at work (still in progress) and asked if I could take their photo to use for a painting. They agreed and were great models!

A couple of months ago he called, asking about the painting, inspiring me to finally finish it. There were some magic moments along the way (see process photos below), such as the one where I did a quick first pass on his hand and then stepped back and said “Wow! That works and I’m not touching it again.”

Since I took the photos at night without flash outside lit only by the fluorescent lights from inside the studio, the photo was dark and the colors were, well, mostly brown. But the UPS slogan is right, BROWN really does deliver! Who knew there were so many shades of brown? I must have mixed a hundred different browns.

Below are photos showing the process of drawing and painting this portrait. Since drawing is the most critical part of a portrait, I used Photoshop to check my accuracy (or lack thereof). I take a photo of the work in progress and after adjusting the size to match, layer it on top of the reference photo with about 40% transparency so I can see the original photo through the photo of the artwork. Then I add another layer on top and trace over the areas that need correction with a colored line.

If you click on any of the thumbnails you can see a larger image in a side-show format.

Drawing, Oil Painting, Painting, People, People at Work, photoshop, Portrait, Series
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Join the conversation! 28 Comments

  1. Stunning portrait! Thank you explaining your process. I had to share on my Facebook page — I hope you don’t mind.

    • Hi Anne, Thanks for the kind words and for sharing on Facebook. I’m delighted you liked it enough to share it so of course I don’t mind! Jana

    • I a proud housekeeper at University of Illinois Chicagoit would be nice if you could drop picture of me I think I’m a very hard working USC and housekeeping always being so ignored and we do so hard work thank you. ..and you didn’t lovely child I also like to draw myself but I didn’t get into it as much as I used to draw when I was in high school

      • Hi Lisa, Send me a photo of you at work or in your uniform if you wear one, and if I can will be happy to try to draw or paint you.


        On Aug 9, 2013, at 10:17 PM, “”

  2. I absolutely love this portrait. You’re captured a lovely person with a wonderful face and smile.
    Thanks for sharing the thumbnail sketches too. I’m not so technologically savvy to understand what you did in photoshop, but it was interesting to look at. :) Great painting.

    • Thanks Carol, I always hesitate about posting steps because they look so funky and show all my difficulties. But I love seeing other people’s process steps so it’s only fair to share. He does seem like he has a good heart, doesn’t he. Jana

  3. Oh, what a great portrait, Jana. And I always love to watch you go through the process. Such fun, and I learn so much from it– a really helpful tutorial. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for your generosity in sharing the steps involved in creating this marvelous portrait!!! You are an inspiration!

    • Thanks Carol! It’s a bunch of work sorting through the dozens of step photos and prepping them to post so I’m glad you found it worthwhile. Jana

  5. We have wild turkeys on our farm. Sometimes they come across our yard, but often I see them while out hiking.

  6. Simply marvelous work!!!…:)

  7. Simply wonderful!! So well done in the capturing of his gentle spirit. Must be so, or it would not have appeared! Blessings always, and thank you for this great tutorial, C-Marie

  8. Wow! That is an amazing portrait. You paint everything so well but portraits may be your forte.

  9. Wonderful portrait — it delivers so much more than the image, it’s got such depth of character and an aura of contentment. Thanks for sharing your process.

    • Your words mean so much to me–being able to convey character and contentment in a painting feels like a major achievement to me so thank you for sharing that! Jana

  10. You make me want to learn to paint with oils! Very nice job…it is just beautiful!

    • Hi Kari, Well that’s quite a compliment. Thank you. I love oils AND watercolor. It’s a treat to be able to choose which I want to work with for a particular subject. P.S. I clicked the link from your website (beautiful paintings!) to your Etsy shop and the link didn’t work. You might want to check that. Jana

  11. Beautiful browns– this is fabulous Jana!

  12. This is an awesome portrait. Thanks for sharing the steps too.

  13. Just lovely! There is so much passion in your work. I see it through the eyes and the gentle smile of your subject. The progressive tutorial is really helpful, thank you for taking the time to do this. Marian

  14. Jana, I have had to just come back here, again and again, to enjoy this portrait. There is so much to see and feel in this special face.


  15. Amazing work! His personality sure shines thru!

    • Thanks Cathy! Especially since he seems like such a good person! Jana

      Sketchblog: Website: UrbanSketchers-BayArea,

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