Friday, February 15, 2013

Painting Justice John Paul Stevens' Portrait

            Painting  former United State Supreme Court   Justice John Paul Steven's Portrait


United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit


Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.  38 x 32, oil on canvas

"Your work captures the Justice beautifully, and we look  forward to hanging it in a prominent place in our Court of Appeals where he served before his appointment to the Supreme Court" 

Judge Diane P. Wood

Chief Judge of the United State Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit


Portrait head and shoulders detail

 Early Development stages

The Artist  with the portrait in her studio  Photo credit Janis Gibson

The Artist in her Studio, developing the early  painting stages of  Justice John Paul Steven's oil on canvas portrait.

 Painting Justice John Paul Steven's portrait is a thrill.  What a great man of quality and distinction. I have decided to paint him in the Conference Room of  The Supreme Court. I am basing the painting on the Official Supreme Court  photograph which is in the public domain. I have decided to have Justice John Paul Stevens hold a law book in his hands,  and I will add the fine mouldings and the book cases of the Supreme Court Conference Room to the background to add compositional detail and interest. Last year Justice Stevens was awarded the Medal of Freedom Award from President Obama, so I feel that should  important honor  should be added to the portrait.

In the images below, I will take you step by step in my early progress of painting Justice John Paul Steven's portrait.

Here are the first indications on the tinted canvas. I am using a turpentine wash and a mixture of yellow ochre and black oil paint make the first strokes.

I am now starting the first wash-in using the turpentine mixture, not concerned about details or the likeness...I just want to get something down on canvas to start the building process. I have the photo reference of Justice Stevens next to the head..Studying the masses and values of the compositions, just as I would if Justice Stevens was posing in my Studio. 


I have been working on the portrait for about 2 hours...just trying to get an accurate base down on the canvas, again, not worrying about the details......(yet)!

I have added the first block-in of the Medal of Freedom and an indication of the bookcases and moulding of the Supreme Court Conference Room.  I am still deciding what "Special" bow tie to paint Justice Steven's wearing.

Here is a photo of Justice Stevens receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama, last year. 

The Painting is now further along, I have a good foundation and placement of the features, (of course, still much more work to do....details and exact  facial measurements).

Now, the portrait is further along, I have developed the background detail, laid in the law book and painted the first block-in of the right hand. I think  it will work well for the composition by adding  the hands holding the law book and his signature glasses, which will lead your eye  in a circular movement around the portrait.



Now the Portrait is finally finished! 



  To see more of my portraits, please visit my website:

To meet the Artist and visit The Lobster Pot Studio, please click on the link below to see a delightful 4 minute film created by PBS Director/Producer James Nicoloro