Painting BB King

Hi all! It’s been a while since the Five Points Jazz Festival where I started painting a memorial piece of BB King. Some of you were there that day to see the beginning of it, and some of you saw the progress shots on Facebook and Instagram. If you missed all of that, you are in for a treat!BB King

First, I laid down the base colors. After the D’Angelo painting, I was really feeling some Rose Madder, which is weird, since I usually hate pink, but something about it made that image pop, so I couldn’t resist.


Next came the Yellow Ochre layer. This gives the piece that opaque, orangey color and starts to develop into skin tone.20150516_141904

After that, I hit it with the blues. I begin with the face, developing the darker shadows of his eyes, nostrils mustache and lips. I love this phase, because this is when the image really starts to come to life. The blues make all that orange feel more natural, and provide the shadow colors. I almost never use black, so for the deepest shadows, I like to mix Prussian Blue with Cadmium Red for a beautiful transparent dark tone. Once I’ve worked on the face for a little while, I move on to the background. Here, I use a Prussian Blue/Cobalt Blue mixture to push the background back, moving his head forward so that he stands out the way he should.

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From here, it’s all layering and adding detail until I finish the piece. His expression was the most important part of this painting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen footage or photos of BB King playing “Lucille” without this look on his face. It’s like part pain, part ecstasy, all amazing!

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I hope you have enjoyed the making of this piece. I know I enjoyed painting it! Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about my process and of course, about where to get a copy of your own.


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