Making a painting

Making a painting is a long, terrifying, exhausting, beautiful process. Every brush stroke matters, and every decision you make impacts the final product. But that's the beauty of it. A painting isn't just a work of art, its a tangible representation of a period of decisions made in the artist's life. In representational painting this is a subject rarely discussed, as we(representational painters) are not typically concerned with viewers being able to see the labor, a mindset much more common in more abstract work. That being the case, and since so rarely does one get to see a painting progress step by step, I thought for this post I would document some of the process as I created one of my self-portrait personas from this body of work. 

Step One(ish)


This is the underpainting. At this point I have put down a base layer of a ground color(in my case burnt sienna), and painted a first layer of my background blue. There was a step before this where the entire canvas was brown, but I forgot to take a picture of it. You can also faintly make out my pencil lines, I physically draw on my canvas before I start painting. Some painters frown on this BUT painting is such a personal process that I firmly believe you have to figure out a practice that makes you feel most comfortable.

Step Two


I call this my "High/low" stage. I start to render, using browns, my darkest areas. I also begin to texture areas of the painting like hair, that need multiple layers to achieve a denser feel. Once the lowlights are done, I start blasting in early highlights with a solid white, to create a more dimensional map of the piece. Since oil painting is done in layers, each one shows through the next depending on how opaque or transparent your subsequent layers are, adding a nice vibrancy to the finished product.

Step Three


In this phase I start rendering skin. It looks strange at first, because in contrast with the underpainting it appears lifeless. But like we touched on earlier, painting is a process, and you have to trust the process. At this point I've also laid down a second layer of the background, and the intense drop shadow, creating a nice illusion of depth, and crossing the figure into the three dimensional plane. The magical abilities of paint are always fun to utilize, and I like to use them to add layers of meaning to a work. Ive also painted in the tattoos on my legs. I use the technique of glazing my skin tones OVER completed tattoos, to give them a more faded and natural look.

Step Four


Getting close to completion now. I lay in more of the hair, touch up the face to add more color and vibrancy, and start tending to smaller details, as well as painting in skin tones around the tattoos on the arm and legs. For this painting I made a conscious decision to leave the shirt relatively flat and dimensionless, to create a nice push-pull between levels of finish within the piece. The last step will be patterning the boxers and doing final small details.



The finished product. Standing a striking six feet tall. So, as you can see, each step has its own very specific purpose that it serves to lead up to the final painting. They all build together to form the work, kind of like an artistic voltron. 


Check back in soon!!!


This is my father.

I met him when I was 18 years old.

Until that point, this photo was the only image I had of his face. Of course, I idolized him. He was the cool mysterious man in suspenders, casually leaning against the wall, shirt untucked just enough to show his general irreverence, but not enough to look sloppy. He was, for some reason, the man I wanted to grow up to be.

That didn't last long.

I am now 26, and as an adult, I have been able to see my relationship with this person for what it really is, and the complexities of those feelings I decided to translate into art. 

In this body of work, I am investigating fatherlessness, otherness, and stereotypes, and how they impact the idea of self. The subject matter of fatherlessness, of course, speaks to the larger issue of fatherlessness in the Black community. However as the work has developed, I have begun to question whether the work is actually about being black and fatherless, or just about being fatherless, and my race only further classifies it(without me explicitly doing so). For me this raises the important issue of stereotypes, both positive and negative, and how we reject them or adhere to them. I also begin to wonder about what is and isn't “racial” art. Is all my art “racial” regardless of whether or not I am discussing race within the work? And what does it mean for me as an artist if my reality and viewpoint is immediately categorized as the “other” by default?

So, as I explore this through painting, these ideas will be addressed, investigated, and exploited in a series that will be half art-making, and half self-analysis.

More soon.


Jacob Troyli

Jake Troyli is an oil painter from St. Petersburg, Florida. A multi-ethnic man, Jake’s work is an examination of the condition and idea of Otherness. Utilizing a graphic style, a meticulous attention to detail, and subtle levity to inform thoughtful subject matter, Jake provides through his work an ongoing investigation of what it means to be the Other, and what happens when the role is shifted.

The series Jake will be debuting for Creative Pinellas is a self-portrait series, focusing on fatherlessness, and the artist’s relationship with his own father. The examination of portraiture as an expressive tool, translation of emotion into personae, and what it means to be a stereotype are all relevant concepts for these particular works.

Jake is a prolific contributor to the local art scene, showing work throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough county, and has recently begun exhibiting in Orlando. He received his BFA from Lincoln Memorial University in 2013, and is currently pursuing his MFA in studio art from the University of South Florida.